The cop who was arrested Friday and accused of raping a school teacher at gunpoint was arraigned on charges of rape, criminal sex act and predatory sexual assault yesterday. Three-year-veteran Michael Pena, 27, was allegedly drunk when he assaulted the woman in Inwood while off-duty in the early morning of Friday. But Pena's lawyer described him as "soft-spoken" and "peaceful," and his family doesn't believe the charges: "My son is innocent. I believe that 100%. He's not the kind of person who would do that," Persio Pena told the Daily News.
Pena, who works out of the 33rd Precinct, was held on $500,000 cash bail or $1 million bond. His family attended the arraignment, and his aunt Ramona Pena echoed his father's sentiments, telling CBS, “He’s a good kid. He’s a gorgeous person. He’s a person with a lot of moral values, a family. We’re really in shock, just like everybody else...He was very proud, very proud to be a police officer. And he was, this is just a surprise for us. This is a very difficult time for the family.”
Pena's lawyer Juan Campos took a more measured approach in his initial statements, arguing that Pena has an unblemished record as a cop, but adding: "If these allegations are true, I believe it is a complete aberration...I'm not saying alcohol excuses this, if that's true, but it may explain certain behavior." Fellow offices at the 33rd told the Post, "He never distinguished himself. He's been mediocre at best." It was also revealed in court that Pena is engaged to his longtime girlfriend.
The 25-year-old teacher told police that she was headed to work around 6:15 a.m. Friday morning when she was approached by Pena, who asked her for directions to the 1 train. She said he demanded she take him to the train, and when she refused, he put his arm around her and flashed his 9-mm handgun at her. He then forced her behind a building on Park Terrace West where he assaulted her.
A neighbor said she had heard the attack and called 911 twice in 10 minutes. "The first time I suspected it was not consensual. The second time because I saw a gun." Another neighbor said that he was sleeping in his apartment when loud noises woke him up, and went to confront the man, saying, “Dude, I live here.” The suspect responded by holding up his hand, and pleading, "just give me a minute." The neighbor also noticed the gun and badge, and called 911.