NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — New York City police officer Kenneth Moreno took the stand during his own trial Monday and told jurors he didn’t have sex with an intoxicated woman who has accused him of raping her after being called to help her get home.
He did, however, admit to making a fake 911 call to police that evening to return to woman’s apartment, 1010 WINS’ Juliet Papa reported.
The officers helped the drunken woman to her apartment and then returned three times within hours. The woman said she passed out but awoke to being raped.
Somber but forthcoming, Moreno took the stand as the key defense witness:
“Did you commit rape, Officer Moreno?” asked his lawyer, Joseph Tacopina.
“No,” Moreno said frankly.
“Did you have sex with (the woman)?”
“No,” said Moreno, who has been an officer for 17 years.
As CBS 2’s Pablo Guzman reports, Moreno’s version of what took place with the woman was stunning.
“She told me to come over to the bed. I said ‘I’m good where I’m at.’ She only had a pink bra on. She came over to me and asked me if I liked her. She tried to kiss me, but I smelled the alcohol. I said ‘you don’t like me.’ She got upset. I kissed her forehead. She took my hand and put it on her stomach and turned so my hand was on her lower back. She started moving her buttocks around my groin area. It was getting crazy. This was totally unexpected,” Moreno testified.
“I kind of pushed her away. I said there’s another time for this. She looked at me. I held her on the shoulders and said we’re not doing this. She got upset.”
An issue in this trial has been whether the woman was too drunk to say no and whether the cops should have called an ambulance instead of taking her to her apartment, the place of the alleged rape.
“I asked her what was going on. The cab driver said she was drunk. She heard what he said. She said, ‘I’m not drunk. I’m just sick,’” Moreno testified.
Tacopina then asked, “Did she respond to your questions?”
Moreno answered: “Yes she did. I told her, if you can’t stand on your own [I was going to have to call an ambulance]. She said she did not want to go to the hospital. ‘Then you’re going to have to stand up.’ She got up.”
Officer Moreno tried to show that his time with the woman was friendly. But he stunned many in the courtroom when he said he tried to comfort the intoxicated, vomiting woman with, “We talked about music. I even sang to her. I sang Bon Jovi’s ‘Living On A Prayer.’
“She said I want you to stay. I said you want me to stay? She said, yes, stay with me. She just wanted to be held. So I held her.”
Earlier, Assistant District Attorney Coleen Balbert aggressively cross-examined Moreno’s partner, NYPD officer Franklin Mata, about the alleged rape of the young, drunk, fashion executive inside her apartment in December 2008.
1010 WINS’ Juliet Papa reports: Prosecutor Grills Officer Franklin Mata
Balbert: “Was it flirty?”
Mata: “She was touching his arm. She was laughing. Giggling. It seemed flirty to me.”
Balbert then went after the cops’ characters, trying to get Mata to admit that he and Moreno intentionally lied to their superior officers by lying on a patrol log about their whereabouts during a lunch break and later placing a fake 911 call to buy them more time inside the apartment.
Balbert: “For that hour, you were not in the precinct station house, were you?”
Mata: “No, we were not.”
Mata testified that shortly after, his partner went into the bathroom to assist the woman as she tried to vomit.
Mata said about 10 minutes later, while he was in the living room sitting on the couch, drowsy, the woman led Officer Moreno out of the bathroom, and into the bedroom where, prosecutors said, he raped the 29-year-old on her bed.
This is where the cross examination turned contentious, because Mata testified that’s exactly when he fell asleep for the next 30 minutes.
Balbert: “So you don’t know whether she was passed out?”
Mata: “I don’t know.”
Balbert: “You said in direct examination Ken did not commit any crimes. But isn’t it true you were asleep and didn’t know what was happening in that bedroom?”
Mata: “I know Ken. Ken wouldn’t do something like that.”
Balbert: “But he would commit a crime like making a false 911 call.”
Mata: “I didn’t know it was fake.”
Mata said he awoke when Moreno nudged him and said they were leaving. He didn’t ask his partner anything about what had happened, he said.
Mata and Moreno have been suspended until a Police Department review after their trial. If convicted, each could face up to 25 years in prison.
So who do you believe? Please offer your thoughts in the comments section below.