NYPD “Rape Cops” Had Prior Abusive Incident Towards A Woman

Two months ago, a New York City jury acquitted two NYPD officers who were accused (in a 2008 incident) of allegedly entering the apartment of a drunk woman — who they’d been called to help — several times over the course of one night and raping her. Kenneth Moreno was accused of raping the woman, then a 27-year-old Gap employee who was blackout drunk, while his partner Franklin Mata stood watch. A jury grappled with the lack of DNA evidence tying Moreno to the rape (he allegedly used a condom) and acquitted the “rape cops” of rape, burglary, and falsifying business records and only found them guilty of official misconduct.

Trial watchers were shocked. Activists held protests. Now, The Village Voice has published a front-page article about another late-night incident, also in 2008, in which Moreno and Mata allegedly verbally abused a young woman outside a bar, calling her a “bitch” and a “c**t.”

This is a story — a documented incident — the jury never heard. The accuser, now a 24-year-old Long Island University graduate student from Queens, claims the cops called her a “c**t” and a “bitch,” refused to take her report for theft, and physically manhandled her in such a way that she had bruises and scratches. In August 2008, she was 21 years old and celebrating at a bar with friends because she was leaving for a study abroad program in India later that week, the Voice reports. By late in the evening, the bartender refused to serve them and asked them to leave. The woman’s friend was in the bathroom while the woman went outside, where a group of teens reached inside her purse and stole her credit cards, money and phone. The bartender refused to let her back inside, so she started banging on the door. Apparently, the bartender called the cops.

Mata and Moreno were the officers to show up. Instead of taking her report, the woman claimed, “they aren’t taking me seriously from the beginning,” giggling and patronizing her. She claims Mata even pulled a sanitary pad from her purse and asked her either, “Is this why you’re so cranky?” or “Is this why you’re being so bitchy?” When her glasses fell off her face, they would not help her put them back on. He also refused to identify himself, allegedly telling her, “It’s none of your business.” They allegedly drove her a few blocks away and then dropped her off, where she asked strangers on the street for money to help her get home. Instead, someone called the cops and Mata and Moreno showed up again. She spent the night in jail and was released the next morning with a disorderly conduct summons. (To be sure, the woman was not a saint: while she was handcuffed and sitting in the back of the squad car, she kicked Mata’s seat and called him names. She also repeatedly called them both names throughout the night, according to the Voice.)

Later that day, the woman filed an official misconduct complaint against them and had her bruises and scratches photographed by an investigator. Although at one point she spoke further with an investigator about the incident, it basically dropped off the face of the Earth. Her theft report was never taken and therefore not investigated, the Voice reports. It was not until Moreno and Mata were acquitted of rape charges that the woman saw their faces again — this time on TV. You can read the whole story here.

It’s unclear why this woman’s complaint of official misconduct wasn’t brought up in court. It could have been considered “prior bad acts,” the Voice claims, and brought up during cross-examination. (“Prior bad acts” are considered as a way giving a sense of the accused’s character only.) Likely the prosecutors were afraid a complaint filed by a woman who had been drunk during the entire incident wouldn’t impress the jury, who were already dealing with the rape accusations made by another drunk woman.

But it’s hard not to think with this new knowledge that maybe Moreno and Mata got a power trip off messing around with drunk women (whatever you believe they were actually committing crimes or not). One wonders if there are more stories like this out there and more victims who are still silent. We’ll never know what would have happened if the prosecution had introduced this misconduct complaint to the jury and how it may have influenced the trial.

Does this story about prior misconduct by Moreno and Mata change how you feel about the “rape cops” verdict? Do you think prosecutors should have introduced this misconduct complaint into the case? Let us know in the comments.

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