MANHATTAN (CN) – After seven days of deliberations, a jury acquitted two New York City cops of rape and burglary charges on Thursday, but slapped them with three misdemeanor charges for official misconduct.
Officers Kenneth Moreno and Franklin Mata face up to a year in prison for each of these counts at their sentencing on June 29. Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly also confirmed that the men would be fired.
Moreno and Mata broke the law by entering a woman’s apartment multiple times without alerting their patrol on Dec. 7, 2008, the jury found.
“We respect the jury’s verdict, which acknowledges that the defendants’ actions that night not only violated the law, they violated the victim’s rights, and the public’s trust,” District Attorney Cyrus R. Vance Jr. said. “I thank our prosecutors, Coleen Balbert and Randolph Clarke Jr., who worked tirelessly on this case. I also commend the bravery of the victim in coming forward, and in persevering through an often grueling and very public nine-week trial.”
The first time the cops visited her apartment, they did so on assignment to escort the 27-year-old fashion executive home from the back of a taxi cab, where she lay passed out after a night of heavy drinking.
Moreno admitted at trial that he faked a 911 call to get an assignment that allowed him and his partner to return her building. Later, the cops slipped out the back door of the station after signing in for a meal, prosecutors said.
Both parties said that the cops found her in the bathroom the first few visits.
During the last visit, the woman, who says she slipped in and out of consciousness, testified that she woke up to Moreno pulling down her tights and raping her when she was too drunk to resist.
Mata, prosecutors said, waited in the woman’s living room to alert his partner if their patrol was looking for them.
A recovering alcoholic, Moreno told the jury that he checked up on her privately in her bedroom and bathroom throughout the night to counsel her about drinking, while his partner took a nap in the living room.
He claimed she was drunk enough to need his nightlong assistance, but not drunk enough for him to call an ambulance.
The jury believed the cops’ story raised reasonable doubt to warrant an acquittal on the major charges, sexual assault and burglary.
A day before the verdict, jurors reportedly sent a note asking whether testimony could be considered factual, and the judge responded that it could.
Defense attorneys criticized what they called a lack of forensic evidence during the trial, saying that no semen or DNA linked Moreno to the alleged assault.
In a secretly taped conversation, Moreno told the woman that he used a condom.
He later said that he was trying to calm her down, but never actually had sex with her.
An expert witness testified that the woman had an irritation in her cervix consistent with the position she said she was raped.
Moreno, Mata and the city still face a $57 million civil suit from the alleged victim.