After a jury's indecision led to a mistrial on rape charges, the father of the victim is speaking out. The upset parent, who lives out of state, told the Post, "When things like this happen, it just makes you think twice" about moving to NYC.
Last August, police officer Michael Pena was arrested for allegedly raping—at gunpoint—a schoolteacher in the courtyard of an Inwood apartment building. Residents of the building, roused by the noise, called the police. During the trial last month, Pena's lawyer admitted, "He did in fact assault her," but tried to insist, "This was a terrible crime, an unforgivable crime, but it does not rise to the level of the [rape] charges."
In spite of testimony from residents and the victim herself, who said that Pena told her, "Shut the f--k up or I'll shoot you," the jury was only able to find Pena guilty on sexual assault charges, but not rape. It's believed that some jurors, including former Governor Spitzer buddy Lloyd Constantine (who is a lawyer), sabotaged the deliberations by allegedly focusing on seemingly inconsequential things, like why the victim couldn't remember the color of the car near where she was raped and dismissing one witness's testimony because he uses a skateboard.
The victim's father told the Post, "She’s very upset and she just needs her time right now,” he said. “I don’t think she’s ready to talk to anyone. You know, it’s not over yet," and added, "I’m an ex-cop, you know. They’re the people you’re supposed to be able to trust — but I guess it’s not like that anymore." No, it's not, sadly.
The Manhattan DA's office is deciding whether to re-try Pena.