Teacher Allegedly Raped by Inwood Cop Describes Horrific Attack
MANHATTAN SUPREME COURT — In heartbreaking testimony, a Bronx school teacher who was allegedly raped by an NYPD officer last summer described in chilling detail Friday how she was dragged into an Inwood alleyway and attacked repeatedly at gunpoint.
Wearing a dark gray sweater and black-rimmed glasses, with her hair swept into a low ponytail, the 25-year-old woman sobbed as she described the terrifying Aug. 19, 2011 assault, which she said was interrupted at least twice by a witness who tried halfheartedly to intervene as she was being held in the alleyway.
“My eyes were closed. I heard someone come up. He said, ‘Whoa, whoa guys. This isn’t cool. What is going on?’” the woman said on the stand, fighting tears and pausing to take deep breaths as she tried to remain composed through detailed questioning.
The witness stopped short of intervening, she said, simply saying that his girlfriend would not be OK with what was going on, before leaving the man she later identified as cop Michael Pena to continue assaulting her, the woman said.
“‘Yo, five more minutes dude,’" Pena alleged shouted.
As the assault continued, the neighbor came out a second time, she said, to repeat his concerns, and demand they "finish up."
The woman, who spoke for more than an hour in a courtroom filled with more than a dozen family members and friends who held their heads down, some crying silently as she spoke, said she had been on her way to her first day as a teacher at a new school when she was stopped by Pena asking directions to the train.
“I gave him directions to the 1, and he said, ‘You’re coming with me,'" she recalled.
But when she refused, “He said, ‘You better come with me,’" and lifted his shirt, revealing a gun tucked into his waistband.
When she realized the gun was real, the woman said she was “petrified.”
“I was scared for my life,” she later said.
The woman then testified that Pena then pressed his gun against her side, put his arm around her and ushered her across the street.
“I just [said] , 'No, no, no, no, no’… My knees sort of buckled,” she said, recalling trying to offer him her cell phones, jewelry and wallet — anything to make him go away.
The woman testified that she spotted a man in a blue shirt walking farther up the street and tried to get his attention.
“I screamed, ‘Help!' twice," the alleged victim said, but said she was immediately silenced.
"He said, 'Shut the f--- up or I’ll shoot you,'" she continued, describing how the alleged rapist then pulled her into the alleyway.
The woman claimed Pena then ushered her toward the back of the alley, where he ordered her onto her knees and forced her to perform oral sex while holding the gun against her head.
“He told me to f----ng close my eyes or he would shoot me," she said, breaking into tears as she described the attack.
It was during that time, she noted, that the alleged witness entered the courtyard, apparently alerted by the noise.
Pena had already begun to move away from the alleged victim as she began to hear police radios and heavy footsteps coming their way, she explained.
In testimony delivered later Friday, one of the arresting officers, the 34th precinct’s Timothy Kraft, said that when he and his partner arrived at the scene, Pena was still "placing his genitals back into his pants," with his zipper still down and his belt undone.
He said the victim was half-naked and silent while Pena pretended police had interrupted a consensual act.
“He’s reaching over and he’s getting her shoes and he’s helping her with her shoes. And he’s kind of talking to her with pet names, like ‘honey’ or ‘sugar,'" Kraft testified.
The officer said when Pena displayed his NYPD shield, he could barely contain his revulsion.
“I looked at it and I was disgusted that a police office would commit such an act and I threw it on the ground,” he said.
The testimony came a day after Pena’s attorney, Ephraim Savitt, told jurors that the accusations against his client were "disturbing, horrifying, and to a large degree, accurate,” but said that while his client apparently tried to sexually assault the woman, there was no corroborating evidence of penetration.
“He did assault her. But there is no rape here,” Savitt reiterated to reporters after her testimony, claiming the woman's memory was clouded by fear if she thought she experienced otherwise.
“She was in a state of complete shock and terror and she was fearful for her life. And I believe that if her account was accurate, you would see forensics backing up her account,” he said.
“She was in abject terror and she experienced something in her mind that didn’t completely conform with what actually happened,” he said.
He also said that Pena, who has lost 50 pounds since the alleged incident, is not the brute the alleged victim described.
“It is totally out of his character to do what he did,” he said. “He’s quiet, he’s respectful, he’s intelligent, and this is something that is absolutely shocking to everybody who knows him.”