NEW YORK (CBSNewYork/AP) – A New York City police officer has pleaded not guilty to charges he raped a woman while off duty.
Michael Pena entered the not guilty plea after he was indicted Wednesday on several charges, including two counts of rape, three counts of a criminal sexual act and five counts of predatory sexual assault.
Officials say on August 19, Pena was off-duty and drunk when he walked up to a 25-year-old woman in Inwood and asked for directions to the subway.
When the woman refused, he allegedly opened his jacket, showed his department-issued firearm and told the woman “you’re coming with me.”
Authorities say he then grabbed her, ushered her several blocks to an apartment building backyard and raped her.
“The brazenness of the horrific attack charged by the grand jury is truly shocking,” said District Attorney Cyrus Vance said in a statement Wednesday. “It is all the more disturbing that the defendant in this case was a law enforcement officer sworn to protect the citizens of this city. Our Sex Crimes Unit is committed to investigating cases of sexual assault in Manhattan and bringing the perpetrators to justice.”
The 27-year-old officer was arrested after the woman ran to officers and warned them he had a gun. Police say the officers didn’t realize Pena was a colleague until they found his police ID.
Pena told them there was no need for backup, according to court papers. “My shield is in my back pocket,” he said.
The papers say that a few minutes later, when asked if he was drunk, he said, “Yes.”
That evening while in custody, the papers add, Pena confided to a sergeant that he didn’t want to make a phone call.
“I wanted to call my girlfriend, but how am I going to call her when I got arrested for cheating with another girl?” he allegedly said.
Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly, called the allegations “very disturbing,” and has ordered an investigation into the officer’s background to see if there’s evidence of other misconduct.
Pena remains behind bars after failing to post $1 million bond since his arrest last month. He was suspended without pay after the alleged incident.
Pena has worked at the 33rd Precinct since 2008 and his family says he is engaged to be married.
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