Outrage erupted back in May when two New York City police officers were acquitted on charges of raping an intoxicated woman at her Manhattan apartment in 2008.
In the case against Officers Kenneth Moreno and Franklin Mata, jurors said a “lack of corroboration,” like DNA evidence, led them to believe that they couldn’t prosecute the duo. Now new information about the cops, who have since been terminated from the force, is leaving some New Yorkers wondering why a prior and quite similar incident was never discussed in court this year — and if it could have led to a guilty verdict.
Mata and Moreno were accused of walking a woman with a blood alcohol level of three times the legal limit into her apartment and sexually assaulting her. A woman made claims that one of the men stood guard while the other raped her. Surveillance camera footage shows the two officers entering and exiting the building four times over the course of the early morning hours and a secret tape recording was presented to jurors in which Moreno seemingly admits to the rape and even discusses wearing a condom. Even still, that wasn’t enough for the juror to find them guilty.
Now, however, a woman who wishes to not be identified by name is saying that only months earlier Mata and Moreno were involved in a similar incident which was swept under the rug.
The Village Voice says the woman, given the alias of “Caitlin,” was repeatedly handcuffed, name-called, assaulted and humiliated by the same two officers after an incident in an East Village bar in 2007. Caitlin tried following a theft report outside of a bar after a group of teenagers robbed her of her wallet and phone, but the officers instead called her a “bitch” and a “cunt” and kicked her around. She says she was detained by authorities twice that night, yet never told why, and was held in a NYC jail cell after the second incident for several hours, only to be released and have the charges of disorderly conduct immediately dropped at her court hearing.
An attorney for Moreno tells The Voice that "It sounds like someone who is disorderly got arrested and now wants to capitalize on what happened. It sounds like sour grapes to me."
Sour grapes or not, if this incident was made known to the jury that presided over the controversial case this past spring, there could have been a much different outcome for Mata and Moreno.
"I was shocked and upset that they didn't use my case in the trial," the Long Island University graduate student tells The Voice. "My case could have helped. You had another example of severe misconduct involving the same officers — abuse of power, involving the opposite sex, a vulnerable victim. It shows a pattern of misconduct."
Moreno’s attorney, Chad Siegel, adds, "My guess is that even the D.A.'s Office discredited her. If they thought it was relevant, they would have used it."
In the rape case, another attorney for Moreno, Joseph Tacopina, famously called his client a “simpleton.”
Edward Mandery, an attorney for Mata, tells The Voice that “People make complaints about police officers every single day."
"The prosecution saw it for exactly what it was, that this wasn't anything of substance."
Caitlin, however, thinks it was a pretty big deal.
She says that on the night of her incident, Moreno and Mata were of no help after she was robbed outside an East Village bar. "They aren't taking me seriously from the beginning," she tells the Voice. "I'm trying to be reasonable and rational, saying my things were stolen, and they are laughing and giggling, patronizing me. So I get upset. They grab me, push me against the car, handcuff me, and put me in the back seat. They aren't taking my report."
"They also hit my friend," she says.
Caitlin adds that, while in custody, Mata went through Caitlin’s purse, pulled out a sanitary pad and asked, "Is this why you're so cranky?"
She says that they continued to tease her and eventually dropped her off a few blocks from where the incident initially occurred. With the assistance of other officers, Caitlin says that Mata and Moreno then returned, threw a dollar bill at her when she said she couldn't afford to get home and then detained her after she became irritated.
“They weren't taking me seriously, and they were trying to humiliate me,” she says.
The theft report that Caitlin attempted to file was also never carried out by Mata or Moreno.
Following the not-guilty verdict in May, the woman that accused Mata and Moreno of rape issued a statement where she recalled her world being turned upside down by the incident, calling Mata and Moreno “two police officers who were sent there to protect, but instead took advantage of their authority and broke the law."
"I thought she made the whole thing up," said Moreno minutes after being found not guilty.
While a jury has found the officers not guilty, they have been terminated from the force and a lawsuit from the accuser is seeking $57 million from NYC.
Caitlin says, however, that things could have been much different if the jury had heard about her altercation.
“I'd like to help [the other woman]," she tells The Voice. "I don't really want anything. My case is relevant. If more people knew about this, maybe there are others out there."