Wednesday, April 6th, 2011

This NYC Cop Rape Case Is the Worst

Unsurprisingly, I'm not particularly enjoying each morning's report from the New York City police offer rape trial. (Yeah, go figure.) Here's part one and here's part two, and it's a rotten thing to wake up and read. The story, in brief, is that a young woman came home to the East Village intoxicated; she needed help getting out of the cab, so the cabbie called 911; two cops arrived, took her in; paid the cab; and then they returned to her apartment three more times that night. (They said they were discussing her alcoholism with her, which, that's not something you do while someone has come home while vomiting in a cab; that's something you do the next day?) On the final visit, one of the officers said that he "succumbed" to "physical contact" after she "became flirtatious" (oh brother) while the other one slept, which, where to even start with that? Why is there even a cop sleeping in some woman's house after a 911 call???

So… sidebar, can I say something horrible? In case no one has ever told you this before: if you have been, or think you have been, sexually assaulted, please call a friend and visit a hospital, and do not shower or change your clothes, if that is possible. It does not matter if you intend to press charges or not: obtaining a rape kit does not require you to go to the police or talk to the police if you are not interested in doing so. Yes, this is the last thing anyone would want to do! And no, you do not have to do this if you don't want. (There are huge arguments about this, and I'm not stepping into them, but they boil down to it being your right to do whatever you want, which, of course.) The argument is that getting medical attention allows you to keep your options open, and you will not be placed in the remarkably terrible position of having lawyers describe your sexual assault as consensual sex.

In any event! Yesterday's story ended on a bizarre note:

Assisted by the district attorney’s office, the woman wore a recording device to confront [police officer] Moreno. He repeatedly denied having sex with her, but finally told her he wore a condom after she threatened to make a scene, [his lawyer] said.

Right, how exactly does that conversation occur in the real world between people who didn't actually have sex? "No, no no, we didn't have sex, we didn't… oh, I see, you are going to make a scene, okay, yes we did but I wore a condom."

27 Comments / Post A Comment

MichelleDean (#7,041)

I don't think that's a horrible thing to say at all.

Again, it's remarkable what the legal profession can do with facts. Why on earth were the police officers going back there? Help her into the apartment, leave. It's really that easy.

logan (#2,811)

Thanks for continuing to speak up for the ladies. It makes me feel all warm and fuzzy to read outrage about rape from a man.

boyofdestiny (#1,243)

I like to think that most humans are outraged by rape. If you're not outraged, you're some species of fucking monster.

logan (#2,811)

I'd agree. But sadly, it's rare to see that outrage in print, accompanied by a man's byline. That's one reason I <3 Choire.

boyofdestiny (#1,243)

Yeah. He's a good one!

Now I'm going to have to take a contrary position just out of spite.


KarenUhOh (#19)

As I have mentioned before, I represented a young woman in a civil suit who was raped in a residential building by a security guard who, seeing that she was intoxicated, upset, and had lost her keys, let her "use a vacant apartment to rest."

It takes little imagination to figure out the rest; we won the case, but the woman didn't receive much in compensation because the jury, it turns out, was put off by her "poor judgment," which boiled down to her being too drunk to figure out a reasonable alternative to the guard's offer. This was before prevalant cellphone use, by the way, so it wasn't easy, nor particularly prudent, to be prowling Chicago streets at 3:00 a.m. looking for a payphone.

Plus, the, Oh yeah, What was she doing out at 3? bit, and the What were you wearing bit. . .Stuff that, crazy me, I thought wasn't relevant, but, hey, everyone gets to present his case, right? We won, but there was no winning this.

That woman had my undying admiration and awe, for just getting through it. And she could have cared less about the money, or lack thereof at the end of the day.

Final incidental: the judge–a woman–was among the significant issues we had to confront. "Of course there's a contributory negligence argument," etc.

r&rkd (#1,719)

To be a law geek, what was the even arguable contributory negligence? I'm always curious about civil remedies for sexual violence, inadequate though they are.

Also, just the other day, my friend mentioned that she let two Chicago police officers give her a ride home. Everything turned out fine but, man, she should have been reading the papers!

KarenUhOh (#19)

The argument was that she contributed to the cause of her injuries by her impaired state. In other words, she was too out of it to have the judgment not to be assaulted.

It was really quite infuriating. And that was for me.

r&rkd (#1,719)

I've been turning this over and over in my head and I think I finally got what's wrong with the contributory negligence argument in the more abstract sense (aside from it being appalling in this context): contributory negligence just doesn't make sense in the context of an intentional tort. But perhaps the claim was against the building for negligent hiring/supervision, rather than for the intentional tort of assault. Or is there something else? Tort law is not my area.

KarenUhOh (#19)

That's the rub. The case was against the following defendants: the building owners, the management company, and the security guard. The case against the first two was for negligent supervision and/or lack of appropriate screening or procedures. Only the case against the guard was for the intentional tort–assault and battery, in this case.

Obviously, part of the point of the case against the building owner/manager involved the collectibility of a judgment purely against the guard, who was, obviously, fired, and who also was convicted of ag sexual assault and was imprisoned.

hockeymom (#143)

I've probably mentioned this, but I covered a case years ago where the prosecutors held up the mini-skirt and the tights the young lady was wearing on the night of the alleged assault. The jury found the three athletes not guilty of taking turns sodomizing and raping her over several hours in a hotel room. I interviewed jurors after the case and the skirt played an important part in their decision…"What kind of message was she sending, wearing that outfit?"

Maevemealone (#968)

That literally turns my stomach and makes me want to cry for that woman.

I hesitate to post this here, since who wants to read about more rape? But if there are any guys out there who don't get the conflict about reporting it, this might do… I don't know, something?

A detective investigating sexual assaults was devastated when he himself was raped. But he grew even more angry when police colleagues insisted on investigating the crime.

And no, it's not very reassuring about privacy, etc. Everything is terrible. Good morning!

scroll_lock (#4,122)

Oh, really wishing I hadn't read that either.

boyofdestiny (#1,243)



This is kind of why I can't get whole-hog on the REPORT IT NOW, REPORT IT TO THE POLICE train, although I am still a strong proponent of reporting and encourage friends, etc., to do so.

zidaane (#373)

"Take her to the Lower East Side"

juicetin (#8,266)

Contributory negligence in a car accident, yeah. Should have been paying better attention to the road! Contributory negligence in rape? Should have been paying better attention to…my genitals? That's just absolutely depressing.

And definitely agree with logan on men writing outrage about rape – nice to see.

MaryHaines (#3,666)

But wait, what was she wearing at the time? And do her neighbors think she's probably a slut? Shouldn't we be more concerned about how these representatives of New York's finest were drawn into such a thing?

We've got our own cop-raping-drunk-woman scandal here in the Windy City right now. Completely shitty, but I'm encouraged by the interim police chief's statement that the victim's intoxication is irrelevant.,0,6435355.story

heyits (#10,148)

this case up here in Alaska was pretty horrendous:
one of the most sickening aspects of the trial to observe was the victim blaming that the defense attorney engaged in. i can't imagine how it felt for those women, who had the courage to come forward and press charges against a cop who raped them WHILE ON DUTY, only to be slut-shamed and blamed in the courtroom. sickening. to the police department's credit, the investigation they did on this was pretty impressive.

Aatom (#74)

I love the understated "here's the BIZARRE part" in this post. like everything before that was even remotely non-bizarre.

stuff_is_things (#6,108)

If somebody were to punch one of these defense attorneys in the face, I wonder how far the "Well, they were asking for it" argument would get them in the subsequent assault trial?

stuff_is_things (#6,108)

@Jon Custer (OK I just realized this comment is about 6 days late…)

What's the name of this trail?

Emperor's Grave (#12,308)

Much like there are special penalties for violence against police officers; there should also be special penalties for police officers who commit violent crimes. There is more breach of just simple human decency when you are actually called upon to help because it is your sworn duty to do so. Let's also mention that these officers faked a 911 call to justify going back. How did they get in the second time? Did they happen to keep the keys just in case?

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