Two men were acquitted on rape charges today here in State Supreme Court in lower Manhattan, and every woman with whom I've spoken about it feels, in her own way, violated.
One night in December of 2008 a cab driver called 911 to help an intoxicated woman who was vomiting and semi-conscious in the back of his cab. Officers Moreno and Mata responded to the call, helped the woman out of her cab, and got her up to her fifth floor East Village walk-up.
Somehow when they left, they left with her keys. They used those keys three more times that night to enter the woman's apartment, all caught on video. Officer Moreno, accused of actually raping her, claims that while he may have "cuddled" with her in her bed (her in nothing but her bra), and while he may have serenaded her with Bon Jovi's "Livin' on a Prayer," there was absolutely no sex or inappropriate touching.
I wonder what he imagines is appropriate touching (or singing) in these circumstances? Intoxicated woman, on-duty cops, stolen apartment keys, nudity: what was this, exactly, in his mind? A new Love Story for the modern age?
Somehow these innocent officers also found themselves placing a false 911 call reporting a disturbance at the building net door, conveniently creating an alibi for their repeated visits to the woman's block. And yet also failed to mention that they were there more than once on their police reports for that shift.
Officer Moreno was actually recorded saying he wore a condom when the woman confronted him with a hidden wire. That's right. At first he denied having sex with her but eventually said that he wore a condom, and elaborated that it was only him and not his partner who had sex with her. But he only copped to this (no pun intended ), he says, in order to avoid having her make a scene at the police station, not because he did or did not wear a condom, did or did not fuck her. Because what an innocent man does when confronted with false accusations is to say he wore a condom, just to avoid a scene.
And of course the reason she's an unreliable witness is that she was drunk. But not so drunk that she couldn't have given consent (she walked to her apartment, after all! So what if everyone acknowledges she was so drunk she spent the rest of the night vomiting?), had they actually had sex. Which of course they hadn't. They only snuggled. Or "cuddled," as he so sweetly phrased it. Naked, but for a bra. After he entered her apartment with the keys he'd taken from her. All while in uniform, and sworn to protect and serve.
It can sometimes be hard to feel safe in this city. After today it's that much harder, and this breaks my heart. The very people in whom we are asked to place our trust, the very men who were called to this woman's aid by a good Samaritan cab driver who could see that she clearly needed help, somehow found it acceptable to "cuddle" with her in her intoxication, in her bed, in her nakedness, and then leave her alone in her own vomit. At the very least.
Whether or not there was actual sex, whether or not there was actual rape, is not the only question here. These men betrayed her trust, and our trust, and have made women across this wonderful city walk with a little more fear today than we walked with yesterday.