I know that in a criminal trial a verdict of not guilty does not necessarily mean the defendants were found innocent, but I am devastated and disappointed by the jury’s decision.
I have waited two and half years for closure that will now never come. Hearing that verdict brought me to my knees; it brought me back to my bedroom on that awful night when my world was turned upside down by the actions of two police officers who were sent there to protect, but instead took advantage of their authority and broke the law.
Everything they say about the difficulties of a rape trial is sadly true. One’s word is not enough in these days of CSI and DNA. Even if people believe you, you are tested beyond what any crime victim should have to endure.
While on the witness stand, the defense attorneys seek to shame and humiliate you for hours, even days, with deeply personal questions about your body, your intimate life and your social life simply because you dare to come forward. How saddening, how utterly disheartening.
I want people to know I take great comfort and express my thanks in the swift action from Mayor Bloomberg and Police Commissioner Kelly to fire Misters Moreno and Mata from service immediately following the verdict. Thank you both for making such a strong statement that this City will not tolerate criminal actions by its police officers.
Not a single officer in uniform sat behind the defendants when I testified. That speaks volumes. I know there are thousands of real and good New York City police officers who would have acted very differently that night.
I want to especially thank Coleen Balbert, Edward Tacchi, Randolph Clarke, Dianne Spence and the entire District Attorney’s Office. I cry as I write this because I know they are hurting just like me, and because I know that beyond just doing their jobs, they are real people who care.
I have spent countless hours over two and half years with these people and I am blown away by their dedication to fight for truth and justice. Before the jury went into deliberation, I told Coleen this has been personal for me, and their endless efforts to help me has meant the world. And even after this shocking ending, I mean that still, I will love them forever.
When Ed told me after the verdict, “I am saddened for this injustice, and so sorry to you for this failure,” I lost it. My heart broke. What I can only say about Ed, Randolph and Coleen is that they did the best for me, they are the best to me, and to so many others they have touched. What sets them apart, makes them best-in-class, is their heart.
They gave me a voice after a night when I had none.
To my friends and family, you are the silver lining of this, you keep me going. I am also so amazed and touched by the thousands of people who have expressed their outrage at what happened to me.
How amazing are the people of New York City, and all over the country, to speak up in my honor. Thank you so much. I am overwhelmed by your support. I want you to know that if I could I would shake your hand, I would hug you, and I hear you. For me, public opinion will be the ultimate verdict.
In interviews around the city on Thursday and Friday, reactions to the verdict revealed the simple terror elicited by the case — that the very people sworn to protect you can take advantage of you. Amid the anger, many expressed little surprise that in a trial without physical evidence, the jury believed the officers over the woman accusing them, who testified that she was too drunk to remember much of what happened.
“It’s disgusting,” said Annie White, a retired home health care aide, who said she had to shut off her television after watching the verdict.
“New York City cops can get away with anything,” Ms. White said, sitting in front of her home on 117th Street in Harlem. “This is the only place I know where there are certain rules for police officers and certain rules for civilians. Acquitting those two today is totally out of line. They should put those cops in jail where they belong.
“Right is right, wrong is wrong. To take advantage of a drunk woman? If you’re a woman in this city you don’t have a chance; you can’t even call the police. If they were civilians, they would be in jail.”
The reaction of one of the officers after the verdict was interesting, to say the least:
After the verdict, Officer Moreno said outside the courthouse that his accuser, who has a $57 million lawsuit pending against the city and the officers, was “mistaken and confused,” and that “she made the whole thing up.”
But the officer, who appeared tense and tight-faced, also said he was not angry.
“I’m glad it’s over,” he said. “It’s a lesson and a win.”
It should be noted a reporter followed up with the officer’s boisterous reaction, but Defense Attorney Joseph Tacopina stepped in and said “Well, we’ll just leave it at that.”
Just exactly what Moreno is referring to his remarks about the verdict being a lesson AND a win?
I’d like to take a stab at what Moreno was probably thinking, but wouldn’t dare say in public.
It’s a lesson to all the women out there like the victim who would even think of coming forward and reporting they were raped by police officers, Average Joes, politicians or even their own male family members. It’s a lesson in rape culture, which teaches women that their cries of rape are only valid if they are sober, can remember EVERY detail and if they fought off the attack with all their might. It’s a lesson to the millions of women out there who dare seek justice for the sexual violence put upon them.
It’s a lesson to the legions of rapists out there that drunk women are indeed fair game because the jury pool, having been raised and brainwashed in the global rape culture, will question the judgment and actions of a woman who cries rape after a night of drinking. It’s a lesson to the legions of young boys and teenagers that it’s okay to have sex with or rape a woman who is too drunk to give consent because her words and demands don’t matter. It’s a lesson to the legions of girls and women because it reminds them perverted and disturbed men and boys are given the green light to sexually violate their bodies, their rights and their well-being if they’ve been drinking.
Yes, officer Moreno is right. It is a win. It’s a win for him and the millions of men and boys just like him who call women who cry rape “mistaken and confused.” It’s a win for rape culture, that teaches men like Moreno that taking advantage of a drunk woman is indeed okay because she put herself in that situation. It’s okay to rape a woman who’s been drinking because a good, moral woman who cares about her safety would never put herself in that situation. It’s a win for rape culture that tells women they are never to be in the same room with a rapist. It’s a win for rape culture because the accusers’ past history of physical and sexual abuse and assault never went on trial; instead the victim’s sexual history, her actions during that fateful night and her lapse in memory are put on trial for the jury–and the world–to see and judge.
Yes, this trial is indeed a victory. It’s a win for rape culture and defeat for women.