New York

No Rape Conviction For “Rape Cop” Michael Pena Hardly Means He Beat The Rap

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As we reported earlier, former New York City police officer Michael “Rape Cop” Pena has been convicted of several of the top charges against him for the vicious sexual assault of a teacher last summer. However, the jury was deadlocked on whether to convict him of two rape charges — which is what the media has spent much of the day focusing on, causing people to freak out (below, we’ll share some of the outrage found in comment sections of news stories about the lack of a rape conviction).

The narrative, as it’s being presented by certain media outlets (we’re lookin’ at you, New York Post — read the paper’s lede to its recent Pena story here), is that a New York City cop beat a rape conviction, which technically is true, but fairly misleading

While the rape conviction probably was deserved, not getting one doesn’t mean Pena’s not headed to the hoosegow for a long, long time (75 years to life if he’s sentenced to the max and the sentences run consecutively)

“Rape” is a powerful word, and it’s easy to get hung up on it in a case like Pena’s. But the crimes Pena was found guilty of — in the legal sense — actually are more serious offenses than rape.

Predatory sexual assault, a crime for which Pena is now thrice
convicted, is the most serious sex crime in New York’s penal code —
it’s a class A-II felony. Rape, on the other hand, is a class B violent
felony.

Predatory sexual assault is defined in New York penal code as follows:

A person is guilty of predatory sexual assault when he or she commits

the crime of rape in the first degree, criminal sexual act in the first

degree, aggravated sexual abuse in the first degree, or course of sexual

conduct against a child in the first degree, as defined in this article,

and when:

1. In the course of the commission of the crime or the immediate

flight therefrom, he or she:

(a) Causes serious physical injury to the victim of such crime; or

(b) Uses or threatens the immediate use of a dangerous instrument; or

2. He or she has engaged in conduct constituting the crime of rape in

the first degree, criminal sexual act in the first degree, aggravated

sexual abuse in the first degree, or course of sexual conduct against a

child in the first degree, as defined in this article, against one or

more additional persons; or

3. He or she has previously been subjected to a conviction for a

felony defined in this article, incest as defined in section 255.25 of

this chapter or use of a child in a sexual performance as defined in

section 263.05 of this chapter.

Basically, you can think of predatory sexual assault as being like a sex crime plus — it’s rape, or a criminal sexual act, where other factors are present that make the crime more heinous.

The
difference between rape and criminal sexual act isn’t the seriousness
of the offense, but the orifice that’s violated (rape is strictly
vaginal intercourse, where criminal sexual act is oral or anal contact).  

We hate to be crass, but this means Pena is guilty of forcing his penis into the victim’s mouth or anus.

The jury’s decision to not convict Pena of rape is bizarre; basically,
the jurors deadlock indicates that they agreed that Pena was pinning
down the victim and sexually assaulting her, but they couldn’t decide
whether his penis — at any point during the assault — touched her
vagina (according to the law, rape is any vaginal penetration, “however slight”). 

Regardless, Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance has pledged
to show the former officer “no mercy” at his sentencing hearing in May,
at which point Vance will likely ask the judge for the maximum sentence.
If he gets it, Pena wouldn’t even see a parole board until he’s more
than 100 years old.

So, Pena may not technically be a “rapist,” but hardly beat the rap — which doesn’t mean he’s not a worthless creep, don’t get us wrong.

Now
that we’re clear on what predatory sexual assault is, let’s take look
at some of the comments — inspired by the sexy narrative of “Cop Beats
Rape Charge” presented by certain media outlets — found posted on
stories about Pena’s case.

Alan Cohen posted the following on the New York Post’s website: “I commented on this case a few days ago and said that a few of the
jurors were in the pocket of the defense—this is horrible what has
happened to this woman–now shes been raped by the legal system.”

Marty Cohen posted this gem, also on the Post’s website: “not the first time and not the last time [police] get away with rape and murder.”

“IHEARTNYC” left this comment on the New York Daily News’ website: “It was deliberate.. Too many coincidences… She needs to demand a state
probe.. The DA, JUDGE, JURY and NYPD need to be put through the ringer..
She was victimized by a junkie of power and now these other idiots are
doing the same to save their boy… If I was her, I would be demanding
alot more… There is something very wrong. My heart goes out her and
hope she will find comfort again…”

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