The former NYPD officer who was acquitted on charges of raping a young woman in her East Village apartment has gone on the offensive, filing a $175 million lawsuit against his accuser, the city, the Manhattan DA, and others. Kenneth Moreno, who along with his partner was on trial for two months in a case that shocked and riveted the city, filed the lawsuit in Bronx Supreme Court. "We failed Mr. Moreno on so many levels here because of people’s own personal self-agendas," says his lawyer, Eric Sanders. "Thank goodness, the jury saw through this false rape scheme."
Moreno and his partner Franklin Mata were arrested in 2008 on charges of raping the unidentified 27-year-old woman in her East Village apartment. The woman was highly intoxicated and was having trouble walking from a cab to her apartment; the cabbie called police, and the two officers escorted the woman upstairs, making sure she got home safe. They also took her keys.
Moreno and Mata then returned to the apartment several more times that night. Moreno was caught on tape fabricating an unrelated 911 call from a pay phone so that they had an excuse to return to the area. During the two month trial, Moreno admitted to singing a Bon Jovi song to the victim while spooning with her on her bed, but insisted there was no rape. However, during a heated pre-trial confrontation with his accuser outside the 9th Precinct Stationhouse, he was caught on tape telling her he used a condom.
The jury found the Manhattan DA's case ultimately unpersuasive, and a subsequent essay from one jury member offered an unflinching account of the agonizing deliberations. (You can download the story here.) However, the two officers were convicted of official misconduct, and Moreno served nine months in prison. He says that since his release he has struggled to find work as a contractor, and that he was sent home from a job after carpenters learned he was the so-called "rape cop."
Moreno's lawsuit accuses prosecutors of rushing the case to trial in order to advance their careers. "Most prosecutors have an agenda," Sanders tells the Post. "They want their 15 minutes of fame. Most people lick their wounds and walk away. He is fighting back." In Sanders's press release, which identifies Moreno's accuser by name, Sanders says, "Moreno is forever scarred with the scarlet letter of ‘Rape Cop.’ Mr. Moreno hopes this lawsuit will vindicate his name and make the schemers pay for their malicious conduct."
In a 2011 interview, Moreno's accuser said, "I remember, obviously, that I was in a cab. I remember that two police officers helped me in the hallway. And I remember that I was raped by them. I think the memory I've held onto is the penetration. I woke up to being penetrated from behind. I woke up because the action of his penetration was so hard that my head was moving toward the window [at the head of her bed] like it was going to go through it."