Officer Pena gets arraigned
An off-duty police officer accused of raping a teacher after asking her for directions didn't mean to harm anyone, his lawyers said Wednesday, but they declined to detail his version of what happened.
Prosecutors said that Michael Pena had been indicted, but the charges weren't immediately disclosed. He is being held on $1 million bond at least until a Sept. 21 court date.
A drunken Pena approached the 25-year-old woman in upper Manhattan early Friday and asked her how to get to a subway stop, police said. Then he grabbed her, showed her a gun, ushered her several blocks to an apartment building backyard and raped her, according to police. A resident of the building called 911, saying she saw from her window that something was happening in the yard.
Pena, 27, was arrested in the backyard, after the women ran to the arriving officers and warned them he had a gun, police said. They said officers didn't realize Pena was a colleague until they found his police ID upon arresting him.
His arrest came about three months after two other New York City police officers were acquitted of raping a drunken woman they had been called to help get home. They were convicted of official misconduct for repeatedly returning to the woman's apartment while telling dispatchers they were elsewhere; they were fired after the verdict.
Pena wasn't in court Wednesday to hear prosecutors announce his indictment, but dozens of his relatives lined the audience. His lawyers agreed to hold the brief proceeding without him instead of waiting until he could be brought from jail.
His lawyers, Juan Campos and Martin B. Goldberg, said they continue investigating the allegations. But "whatever happened, there was certainly no intent on the part of Michael Pena to hurt anybody," Goldberg said. "There was no intent to sexually abuse anybody."
Pena, whose lawyers said he is engaged to be married, has been on the police force since 2008. He was suspended without pay after his arrest.