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Ex-police officer gets jail in rape case that riveted New York

August 8, 2011 | 12:46 pm

Rape trial

A former New York City police officer who had been acquitted of rape was sentenced Monday to a year in jail for his conviction of official misconduct, closing a chapter in a heated criminal case that angered victims' advocates who said the officer and his partner got away with rape.

A clearly angry judge gave Kenneth Moreno the maximum allowed under the law; his partner, Franklin Mata, faces sentencing Wednesday.

The case riveted New York when it erupted in early 2009 with the officers' indictments on rape charges. A 29-year-old woman celebrating a new job and her upcoming move to California got so drunk that police had to help her up five flights of stairs into her Manhattan apartment. Video from security cameras later showed Moreno and Mata returning to the apartment three times that night.

In a trial that lasted several weeks, the woman described foggy memories of lying on her bed, too drunk to do anything, as she was abused by the men. Moreno, 43, was accused of raping her while Mata, 29, was alleged to have stood guard. In the trial, Moreno admitted being in the apartment and even crawling into bed with the woman but insisted he was only talking to her about the dangers of drinking too much and trying to help her through a difficult time.

In May, after several days of deliberations, a jury acquitted the men of rape but convicted them on three counts each of official misconduct for lying about where they were as they returned time after time to the woman's apartment while on duty.

Lack of physical evidence and the woman's hazy recollections left too much reasonable doubt in their minds for a conviction, jurors said later as protests erupted outside the courtroom. The New York chapter of the National Organization for Women launched an online petition demanding maximum sentences for the men.

In court Monday, Supreme Court Judge Gregory Carro made clear he wasn't sold on Moreno's story. "You told a story that was incredible," Carro said. "Your testimony was classic for admitting what you couldn't deny and denying what you couldn't admit."

Those in court included the alleged victim, who now lives in California and who released a statement after the acquittals saying that justice had been denied her.

The case has figured into some of the inflammatory statements surrounding the criminal case against former International Monetary Fund chief Dominique Strauss-Kahn, who is charged with trying to rape a hotel maid this year. Kenneth Thomas, the lawyer representing the alleged victim in that case, has accused prosecutors of being reluctant to take Strauss-Kahn to trial for fear they could lose another high-profile sexual assault case.

RELATED:

Maid in Strauss-Kahn case speaks out

Dominique Strauss-Kahn pleads not guilty

Op-Ed: With reported rapes, the DSK case is the exception

-- Tina Susman in New York

Photo: Women protest the May acquittal of the officers in the rape case.Credit: Mary Altaffer / Associated Press