A city cop on trial for allegedly raping a drunk East Village woman is claiming he didn’t have sex with her – he only counseled her about the dangers of booze. Officer Kenneth Moreno “kissed her shoulder” and rubbed the accuser’s back, defense lawyer Joseph Tacopina conceded to jurors in opening arguments Monday. But that was because “she was upset she drinks too much,” Tacopina said. “He did not rape \[her\].”
“Kenneth Moreno is an alcoholic, he’d had a serious drinking problem,” Tacopina said. “He’s tried to help many, many people along the way with alcohol problems.” Moreno is accused of raping the incapacitated woman in her E. 13th St. home, while his partner acted as a look out, after responding to a 911 call to assist a drunk woman. His lawyer said the woman – a Gap clothing store executive who blacked out from a night of heavy drinking – spoke with Moreno and gave him her keys so he could return later that night.
Prosecutors told a far different story, slamming Moreno and partner Franklin Mata, who is also charged with rape for allegedly helping to cover up the crime.
“They violated her home and her body,” Assistant District Attorney Randolph Clarke said.
The cops “took advantage” of their “unique position” when a cab driver dropping off the woman called them Dec. 7, 2008, he said.
“He called for help and instead the defendants showed up,” Clarke said of the cabbie. “The actions they took that night were counter to the oath they took.”
Clarke said the woman has little memory of what happened but does remember lying face down on her bed, having her tights pulled off.
“She remembers being raped by those whose job it is to help her,” Clarke said.
She remembers hearing the sound of velcro, used as a fastener on bullet proof vests, he said.
“She could not stop the abuse, she could not stop the attack – she passed out,” he said.
Prosecutors said the cops also tried to cover their tracks. They said a witness saw Moreno and Mata return to the building after they helped her inside and that they told him they were there to investigate “suspicious activity.” They said there is not DNA, but noted that Moreno admitted using a condom when the woman – secretly wired by the Manhattan DA – confronted him days after the alleged assault.
“Ultimately he admitted to the rape, he admitted to using a condom,” Clarke said. The defense contends Moreno, 44, only said he used a condom because the woman threatened to tell his superiors he raped her. He questioned why the cops – accused of returning to the woman’s apartment three more times after getting her inside – would come back as she started sobered up. “This wasn’t a rape,” he said. “They struck up a rapport.”
He said the woman gave Moreno her cell phone numbers – and he called her the next day. “Does a rapist do that?” he asked, saying the woman “became flirtatious with Moreno.”
“She was talking about wanting to move back to California with Kenneth Moreno that night,” Tacopina even said. The lawyer claimed that the woman was so fuzzy on what happened, she told a pal the next morning, “I may have been raped.”