WCBS 880’s Irene Cornell On The Story
In March, a jury convicted Michael Pena of three counts of predatory sex assault for possessing a weapon and three counts of criminal sex acts involving “touching.” The jury deadlocked on four other counts, including first degree rape.
The victim, a 25-year-old school teacher, said the incident took place off an Inwood street last August. She said Pena initially asked her for directions, but when she refused he opened his jacket, displayed his city-issued police gun and then sexually assaulted her in a courtyard, all in broad daylight, CBS 2’s Jessica Schneider reported.
By pleading guilty to rape, the teacher will not have to face Pena in a retrial.
Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus R. Vance applauded Pena’s guilty plea.
“Michael Pena took responsibility for his violent criminal actions and will serve up to life in prison,” Vance said. “This plea spares the victim from testifying again about the crimes committed against her, and it is my hope this resolution brings a brave young teacher a measure of justice and closure.”
Pena will be sentenced to an additional 10 years to life on the rape charge but the sentences will be concurrent.
The victim was on her way to her first day on the job at the time of the attack.
At Pena’s sentencing in May, the woman told the court, “My life has been shattered — my sense of security, my sense of safety, any and all independence. He used his weapon and basically destructed my life.”
Pena told the victim he was “terribly sorry” for his actions and expressed shame.
“I have no explanation for what happened that day. I know I should be punished,” he said. “I will just have that guilt for the rest of my life.”
Manhattan state Supreme Court Justice Richard Carruthers called Pena’s conduct “deplorable” saying instead of being one of New York’s finest, he is a sexual predator.
Pena joined the New York Police Department in 2008. He was fired after his conviction. He was engaged to be married at the time of this incident. He is still engaged to the same woman, who lives in the Dominican Republic, Schneider reported.
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