Media sins of omission in NYPD rape case

The acquittals of two NYPD cops accused of raping a 27-year old woman while on duty in 2008 is sure to become a big media item in the next couple days. I expect a lot of news reports will focus on the lack of DNA evidence in the case as a reason in favor of acquittal. However, there are two pieces of evidence that stand out in the prosecution’s case that should be kept in mind.

First, a taped statement from one of the officers:

A 27-year-old woman was several minutes into her conversation with a veteran police officer outside his Manhattan station house when the officer made the crucial statement.

“Yes I did,” said the officer, Kenneth Moreno, after the woman pressed him on whether he had used a condom during sexual intercourse she claimed he had with her a few nights earlier.

What those words amount to — an admission of guilt or an effort to get the woman to leave him alone — is a point of contention that could prove critical in the rape trial of Officer Moreno and his partner, Officer Franklin L. Mata.
[...]
In a 23-minute recording, played in court on Monday, Officer Moreno could be heard several times telling the woman that nothing happened between them.

“Nothing happened that night,” he said in one instance. “Ma’am, you don’t have to worry about anything,” he also said.

The woman kept insisting that she just needed to know if he had worn a condom.

On a couple of occasions, the woman threatened to take the conversation inside the police station if Officer Moreno did not confess.

“Ma’am, you want me to admit something that didn’t happen,” the officer said at one point.

Then, after the woman said to Officer Moreno, “I don’t want to make a scene in there,” and asked again if he had worn a condom, he responded, “Yes I did.”

Mr. Tacopina argued in court that his client had said that only to prevent her from causing trouble in his workplace; that, he argued, made the tape inadmissible.

Even after saying he had used a condom, Officer Moreno continued to deny to the woman that he had had sex with her (NY Times, 1 Mar. 2011)

Secondly, the testimony of a nurse who analyzed the medical records of the accuser:

A nurse testified Thursday that redness on the cervix of a woman who has accused two cops of rape was consistent with her hazy recollection of being assaulted.

Karen Carroll – a specialist in sexual-assault forensic exams – said that the redness found on the woman’s cervix was in the right location for being penetrated from behind.

“It is consistent with something coming into contact with her cervix when she is lying on her stomach,” Carroll said in Manhattan Supreme Court.

The woman testified that she awoke in her East Village apartment in December 2008 lying face down on her bed with a man raping her from behind.

Carroll did not examine the woman when she went to Beth Israel Hospital after the alleged assault but served as an expert witness after reviewing her medical records.
[...]
The accuser, a fashion executive, has said she didn’t have sex for four months before encountering the officers and Carroll testified that cervical bruising would only have lasted “a few days.”

When asked why there was no sign of vaginal tearing, Carroll explained that was not uncommon with an unconscious victim.

“If a person is passed out, they are probably not moving and you don’t have as much difficulty getting the penis into the opening,” she said.

During graphic cross examination, one of Moreno’s lawyers drew a rebuke from the judge after comparing a woman’s private parts to a Venus Flytrap.

“It’s not like a Venus Flytrap and snaps?” attorney Chad Seigel asked.

“That is a terrible example,” Judge Gregory Carro interjected (NY Daily News, 21 Apr. 2011).

Now, consider the following Google news searches:

kenneth moreno rape dna 152 results

kenneth moreno rape condom 8 results

kenneth moreno rape cervix 6 results

The same media that is so eager to report on the lack of DNA evidence neglects to mention two of the more damning pieces of evidence, one of which actually explains the lack of DNA samples. A little unbalanced, don’t you think?

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