Officer Pena gets arraigned
The off-duty police officer accused of forcing a teacher into an alley and raping her at gunpoint fears the Manhattan District Attorney's office will pursue his case with a vengeance because two police officers were acquitted of rape in a high-profile case this spring.
Michael Pena, 27, is being held at Rikers on $1 million bond after he allegedly grabbed the 25-year-old woman off the street and assaulted her as she walked to work Friday in Manhattan.
"The DA is arresting cops, indicting cops," Pena told the Daily News in his first jailhouse interview. "They're trying to make an example out of me."
Pena did not comment specifically on the charges against him, telling the paper his lawyer advised him not to discuss the case.
He was arraigned Saturday on charges of first-degree rape, forcible rape and predatory sexual assault.
Police said Pena, who was intoxicated, approached the woman as she was walking near Park Terrace West in Inwood and asked for directions to the No. 1 train.
He then showed her his gun in his waistband, put his arm around her, saying "you are coming with me," and took her to an alley, police said.
In their courtroom account of the alleged rape, prosecutors said Pena ushered the woman behind a building on Park Terrace West. A resident inside the building told police she looked out the window and saw the defendant violating the woman. The resident called 911.
After two 911 calls, police arrived to find Pena with his pants still down.
Pena told the News he had a "picture perfect" record and had never been in trouble before this incident.
His lawyer, Juan Campos, portrayed him in court as a family man who recently moved in with his fiancee. Campos suggested that if the rape allegations are true, "they could be the product of something that can't be explained."
Though Pena would not speak specifically about the incident, he told the News, "Eventually the truth will come out. Everything's not black and white. There are shades of gray."
The May rape acquittal of former police officers Kenneth Moreno and Franklin Mata, who were sentenced this month to a year and two months, respectively, in prison for official misconduct, marked a big loss for the district attorney's office.
Compounding that loss, the district attorney's office may drop sexual assault charges against former International Monetary Fund head Dominique Strauss-Kahn this week.