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Police Officers Accused of Rape Face New Charges

By DNAinfo Staff on March 21, 2011 2:26pm

Police officer Kenneth Moreno, 43, is accusing of raping a drunk woman while on duty in 2008.
Police officer Kenneth Moreno, 43, is accusing of raping a drunk woman while on duty in 2008.
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DNAinfo/John Marshall Mantel

By Shayna Jacobs

DNAinfo Reporter/Producer

MANHATTAN SUPREME COURT — New charges have been filed against a pair of police officers accused of raping an East Village woman, delaying their criminal trial that was slated to start Monday. 

Police officer Kenneth Moreno, 43, allegedly raped a 27-year-old woman who was too intoxicated to get from a cab to her East Village fifth-floor walk up apartment on Dec. 9, 2008 while his partner, Franklin Mata, 28, allegedly stood guard. The victim has since moved out of the city but is expected to testify at trial, prosecutors said.

Prosecutors revealed Monday that they that they miscounted the number of times that the police officers allegedly entered and exited the victim's apartment — originally charging the officers with entering three times instead of the four that is apparently shown on surveillance video.

Franklin Mata, 28, arrives for a court appearance Monday.
Franklin Mata, 28, arrives for a court appearance Monday.
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DNAinfo/John Marshall Mantel

Prosecutors included the additional counts during their second presentation to the grand jury, after their first indictment had to be thrown out because of the mistake over the video evidence.

"These officers snuck out of the precinct while they were on meal [break] to to return to the complainant's apartment for a fourth time," Assistant District Attorney Coleen Balbert said at Monday's hearing, as the officers were arraigned on the new indictment charges.

The new indictment includes many of the same charges against Moreno and his partner, who allegedly stood guard while Moreno was inside the apartment. Both officers are now charged with first-degree rape, as well as burglary for entering the apartment without permission.

In addition, both officers face additional counts of official misconduct and falsifying business records, as well as tampering with physical evidence — bringing the total number of criminal charges to 26 from the original 15.

Defense lawyers have been granted a one-week postponement to prepare for trial, which had been slated to start jury selection on Monday.

The victim cooperated with prosecutors to record her conversation with Moreno outside an NYPD precinct in which he allegedly admitted to using a condom during their encounter. He also can be heard on the tape denying there was ever any sexual encounter, according to prosecutors.

Joe Tacopina, Moreno's lawyer, said the new charges discredit the district attorney's original theory that the officers entered the apartment three times and that the rape occurred during one of the three visits.

He said the revelation that the officers visited a fourth time after the rape occurred runs counter to common sense.

"That would suggest a guy who just raped a woman would come back an hour later to just check on her and say, 'Hey,' " Tacopina said.

Balbert disagreed, telling a judge Monday that the new charges strengthen their case against the officers.

The officers are due back in court on March 28, when jury selection is expected to commence. They face up to 25 years in prison if convicted.