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Former Officer Accused of Rape Files $175M Lawsuit Against Accuser

By Lisha Arino | July 31, 2014 7:47pm
 Kenneth Moreno (l.) leaves Manhattan Supreme Court followed by his lawyer, Joseph Tacopina (r.), May 26, 2011.
Kenneth Moreno (l.) leaves Manhattan Supreme Court followed by his lawyer, Joseph Tacopina (r.), May 26, 2011.
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DNAinfo/Paul Lomax

THE BRONX — The ex-officer acquitted of raping a drunk 27-year-old woman in her East Village apartment in 2008 filed a $175 million lawsuit against the accuser and the city Wednesday in an effort to restore his reputation, court records show.

Kenneth Moreno, who was cleared of sex assault but found guilty of official misconduct, said the woman falsely accused him of rape and worked with her lawyer to sue him for financial gain. Meanwhile, prosecutors and some members of the police department overlooked what he called her "credibility issues" and lack of evidence to back up her claims, Moreno claimed in a lawsuit filed in the Bronx Supreme Court.

The former officer said  the woman accused him of stealing her BlackBerry from her apartment, even though she had acknowledged on Facebook that she had lost her phone.

Moreno also alleged that he was discriminated against because of his Puerto Rican heritage. His accuser "expressed sexual interest in him until she found out that he [was] Puerto Rican instead of Italian,” according to the document.

A white detective assigned by the the NYPD’s Internal Affairs Bureau to investigate the case “was less than objective,” believing that he had raped the woman even though physical evidence indicated otherwise.

And Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance, Moreno claims, “investigates, prosecutes and makes other charging decisions based upon race, political affiliations and other improper factors designed to ensure their own pecuniary gain.”

“The prosecutors wanted to make a name for themselves and left him with a scarlet letter,” the former officer's lawyer Eric Sanders told the Daily News, which first reported the lawsuit.

HBO and "Sex Crimes Unit" documentary filmmaker Lisa F. Jackson are also named in the suit for creating and airing a show about the Manhattan District Attorney’s work on the case.

Moreno claims prosecutors violated his rights by participating in the documentary, where “discussions and other materials were developed but not turned over to him including more than eighty (80) hours of raw footage.”

By refusing to turn over those materials, Moreno alleged, the prosecutors and filmmakers blocked access to information that could have been favorable to him in court, including evidence that the woman was “nothing other than an opportunist with no credibility.”

The suit claimed a rape conviction would have “ensured” their success and that the film's debut at the Los Angeles Film Festival "achieved little fanfare" because he had been acquitted of the rape charges.

An HBO spokesman said the suit "has no merit."

Moreno and his ex-partner, Franklin Mata, escorted the accuser to her East 13th Street apartment in December 2008 after a cab driver called police to report that a passenger was incoherent and vomiting in his cab. Moreno was accused of raping the inebriated woman while Mata stood guard.

Both men were found not guilty of rape, burglary and falsifying records in May 2011, but were convicted on official misconduct charges for failing to call an ambulance for the woman and for returning to her home three times the day of the incident.

The Manhattan District Attorney’s office declined to comment. The city's Law Department said it would review the case "once we are served with the lawsuit." The Police Department did not immediately return a request for comment.