By Patrick Hedlund
DNAinfo News Editor
CITY HALL — A group of city councilwomen and feminists blasted the acquittal of two police officers on rape charges Friday, calling for them to get the maximum sentence on official misconduct charges.
Members of the Council's Women's Caucus, led by co-chair and East Village representative Rosie Mendez, gathered on the steps of City Hall with other anti-violence advocates to denounce the not-guilty verdict for police officers Kenneth Moreno and Franklin Mata.
The two were cleared of rape charges Thursday after a grueling nine-week trial, in which the officers were accused of raping an East Village woman in late 2008 after they were called to escort her to her apartment following a night out drinking with friends.
Mendez demanded that Moreno and Mata receive the maximum sentence of a year in jail after the two were found guilty of official misconduct, which resulted in their immediate dismissal from the NYPD Thursday.
While lauding Police Commissioner Ray Kelly's swift action in bouncing the cops off the force, advocates viewed their acquittal as a failure of the justice system.
"Women across the city are angry," said Sonia Ossorio, executive director of the National Organization for Women's New York City chapter. "The story from the beginning never added up. In the court of common sense, they are guilty."
Many explained that the accuser's alcohol consumption the night of the incident unfairly threw her integrity into question.
"The victim was presumed guilty simply because she was intoxicated," said Brooklyn Councilwoman Letitia James. "The credibility of the woman was on trial."
A similar protest drew more than 200 people later in the day outside the courthouse where the cops were acquitted.
"I find it so egregious, the verdict," said Michelle Pardon, 36, of the Upper East Side. "I just thougth it was absolutely awful somebody could get away with this."
The use of alcohol or drugs by the victim is common in rape cases, advocates said, and one in five women will experience rape or attempted rape in their lifetimes.
Only six percent of those accused of rape ever spend any time in jail.
Hispanic Federation president Lillian Rodriguez Lopez put it more bluntly.
"We have let two predators back on the street," she said.
Mendez added that despite the not-guilty verdict, she believes the judge will look at the case "from a more experienced lens" in issuing a sentence.
"In light of the officers' testimony, I think it's a high probability," she said of Moreno and Mata getting the maximum sentence. "And I hope that's the case."