Officers Cleared of Rape, But Fired from NYPD After Misconduct Conviction

Two NYPD officers were cleared of rape and burglary charges but found guilty of official misconduct in the case of a woman who said she was assaulted when the officers brought her home after a night of drinking.

A jury deliberated seven days and on Thursday acquitted Kenneth Moreno, 43, and Franklin Mata, 29, of the most serious charges in the December 2008 incident, including several counts of falsifying business records.

"I'm glad it's over," an emotional Moreno said outside court.

"I just want to get on with my life," Mata said.

Police Commissioner Ray Kelly said later that the official misconduct conviction "warrants immediate termination from the department" and said the officers would be fired from the NYPD "today."

On the night of the incident, Moreno and Mata were initially called to help the drunken woman out of a cab. Prosecutors argued that when they took her up to her apartment, Moreno raped her while Mata stood as a lookout. Both officers denied the charges.

The accuser testified that she was so drunk she did not remember parts of the night, but told the jury that she woke up in her bed as she was being raped.

During testimony in court, Moreno said he cuddled with the woman to try and comfort her because she was ill from drinking, but said no sex took place. Mata testified that he was asleep on the woman's couch while his partner was in the other room.

Moreno did make a fake 911 call about a vagrant so that they had an excuse to return to the woman's block.

No DNA evidence was presented in the case, and experts were divided over whether an internal mark on the woman was the result of a rape. A doctor testifying for the defense said he didn't interpret it as evidence of rape.

The woman had secretly taped Moreno in an encounter a few days later, and he denied they'd had sex. But he also said "yes" when she asked if he had worn a condom. He later said he was trying to calm her down because she was threatening him.

Mata was on the force for about five years and Moreno for 17.

Defense attorney Joseph Tacopina said outside court that "we're obviously elated with this verdict today."

They face up to one year in prison for the misconduct charge and are set to be sentenced on June 29.

Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance said in a statement that prosecutors "respect the jury's verdict, which acknowledges that the defendants' actions that night not only violated the law, they violated the victim's rights, and the public's trust."

Follow NBC New York on Twitter and Facebook. Get breaking news delivered right to your mobile phone -- text NYBREAKING to 639710 to sign up.

Contact Us