Recommended

Wednesday, February 12, 2014
Rapist to Go Free After 19 Months? Ex-NYPD Officer Appeals 75-Year Sentence, Victim Campaigns for Tougher Rape Laws

Rapist to Go Free After 19 Months? Ex-NYPD Officer Appeals 75-Year Sentence, Victim Campaigns for Tougher Rape Laws

A rapist is trying to go free by appealing his 75-year sentence after only 19 months behind bars, according to reports. Michael Pena, a former NYPD cop, was convicted of predatory sexual assault for the 2011 rape of Lydia Cuomo, a Bronx schoolteacher. Cuomo is now advocating against Pena and to change the New York state law that doesn't classify non-consensual oral and anal sex as rape.

Despite the overwhelming DNA evidence against him and his eventual confession to rape— a debate among jurors surrounding whether he penetrated her vaginally had become grounds for a mistrial, and Pena wanted to avoid serving more time— the convict's lawyer wants his time behind bars to be reduced.

"In this case, a young 28-year-old man, whose crime was grievous, yet aberrant to his character and prior personal history, was punished more harshly than al-Qaida terrorists, vicious killers, kingpin narcotics offenders, violent gangsters and racketeers and other recidivist predators," Ephraim Savitt, Pena's attorney, said in court documents.

Savitt claimed that the New York Supreme Court Justice Richard Carruthers was trying to "send [a] proverbial 'message'" in the highly publicized trial by giving Pena three back-to-back 25-year-to-life sentences, which were to be served consecutively, according to DNAInfo.com.

Pena, 30 was off duty from the 33rd Precinct when he attacked Cuomo, then 24, while she was heading to her first day of school Aug. 19, 2011. After dragging her to an alley between houses, he orally, anally and vaginally violated her for 20 minutes— several eyewitnesses testified against him during the trial, and Cuomo corroborated the assault.

Pena was convicted of predatory sexual assault for using a gun and threatening to kill Cuomo during the attack. However, because two jurors did not believe she had been vaginally penetrated, the term "rape" was avoided; rape is only used for penetration of a woman's vagina in New York state.

When the verdict was first announced, Cuomo said she was upset because her attacker wasn't classified for what he was— a rapist.

"I knew I had been raped and I had this jury say, 'Well, it wasn't really rape, it was sexual assault,'" she told WABC 7 previously. "But there was still this kind of unresolved idea that he's going to prison, but not as a rapist. And, every sort of part of my being said that was wrong because I had been raped."

A Queens Assemblywoman, Aravella Simotas, took up Cuomo's cause and attempted to have the law changed to include both non-consensual oral and anal sex as rape in 2012, but to no avail.

Cuomo continues to advocate against Pena and the law, even revealing her own name to the public and media outlets so that she felt in control of what happened.

"His face and his picture will forever haunt me. It's never going to be something that I'm OK seeing. And I have this opportunity to take this negative thing and make it positive, so it's definitely just something I want to continue to do," the 27-year-old, who still teaches to this day, added.

Sponsored

Most Popular

More Articles