A bizarre and troubling story out of New York City this week: police officer Kenneth Moreno, 43, is standing trial for the alleged rape of an intoxicated woman whom he and his partner were called to help.
What happened next is beyond f**ked up … and a “Law & Order: SVU” episode just waiting to happen.In 2008, the alleged victim, a 27-year-old fabric designer for The Gap, was celebrating a promotion at a club in Brooklyn with coworkers and friends when she got so drunk that she wanted to go home around midnight. According to The New York Times, people at the club that night testified the woman had to hold onto a wall to stand upright, needed help finding her coat, hailing a cab, and directing the cab driver to her correct address on the Lower East Side. Obviously this woman was beyond bombed.
After vomiting both inside a cab and outside a cab window, the woman asked the cabbie to help her into her apartment. The cab driver refused, though, according to the Taxi and Limousine Commission official cabbie rules. Instead, he called 911 and is recorded on the call saying, “I have somebody in my cab that is so drunk that I need assistance.” When the dispatcher asked the cab driver if the woman had passed out, he replied “Yeah, something like that.” She allegedly sat in her own vomit for six minutes until the cops arrived.
Two officers responded around 1 a.m to help the woman upstairs: Kenneth Moreno and Franklin Mata, 28. What is most bizarre is how Moreno and Mata returned to the woman’s apartment a total of three more times throughout the night. Those visits, which they allegedly did not inform their superiors about, were caught on surveillance footage.
The woman claims she does not remember anything about the night other than officer’s radios and her tights being pulled off. The next morning, however, she reportedly told friends either she was raped or she may have been raped. (Unfortunately, she showered after the alleged sexual assault, which washed away any DNA evidence Moreno may have left.)
Moreno’s attorney claims that the officers were at her LES apartment a total of four times that night because were checking up on the drunk woman; in particular, his client is a sober alcoholic and was counseling her about alcoholism. The attorney also claims that the woman — I’ll remind you at this point, she was so drunk she needed help getting into her apartment — acted “flirtatious” and that Moreno “succumbed to physical contact” with her — a kiss on the shoulder — but that the pair didn’t have sex (er, he didn’t rape her). Moreno’s partner, Mata, allegedly slept inside the woman’s apartment at some point, too. He is accused of helping Moreno cover up the alleged crime.
This is where it gets even more WTFier than WTF. The woman confronted Moreno while wearing a hidden wire and got a different story. Originally, Moreno told the woman that they did not have sex. But then when the woman threatened to make a scene, he was recorded telling her that they did “have sex” but he used a condom.
The woman is expected to testify during the trial and I couldn’t respect that decision more. If Moreno sexually assaulted her at all, let alone in uniform, he needs to be locked up yesterday. This alleged sexual assault sounds downright predatory to me — both because she was too drunk to consent to sex but also because he is a police officer who should not be engaging in sexual contact with individuals he comes across in his line of work, period.
Although this is purely speculation, it’s possible this woman believed she’d brought a guy (a cop, perhaps) home from the bar and was indeed being “flirtatious,” but he didn’t disabuse her of that notion. Who knows. It still wouldn’t make his behavior or his partner’s behavior OK. All we know is that it’s highly suspect two officers would visit a stinkin’ drunk woman’s apartment four times in one night and eventually “succumb to physical contact,” as his lawyer put it. When there’s an allegation of rape or sexual abuse between two drunk people, it’s easy to see how some people justify a grey area of what was consented to. (Let me be clear, I’m not personally justifying a “grey area” for sexual abuse or assault. I’m just saying I understand that remembering if consent occurred — physically or verbally — when both parties are wasted is difficult.) But it’s clear cut to me that when an on-duty police officer whom we would hope is sober responds to help a drunk woman who reportedly had little clue what was going on, who is in the position of power here and who is not.