Long Island City, NY March 30, 2012 -
ALBANY, N.Y. – In the wake of a New York State Supreme Court Justice’s declaration of a mistrial on the rape charge against former New York City Police Officer Michael Pena, Assemblymember Aravella Simotas announced that she would introduce legislation to prevent such a miscarriage of justice from happening again.
While Pena was convicted of several other charges for holding a Bronx school teacher at gunpoint, threatening her life and forcibly sodomizing her, he was not convicted of the top count of rape. No verdict was reached on the rape charge despite evidence of the defendant’s semen in the victim’s underwear, redness to her genitals, eyewitness testimony and the victim’s own account of the pain of the attack. As the law currently stands, a charge of rape requires an element of penetration.
"Common sense dictates that what happened to the victim in this case is rape," Simotas said.
Simotas' bill would define rape as sexual conduct, rather than sexual intercourse, to ensure that rapists cannot escape facing the full consequences of their actions based on a technicality. Simotas’ proposed legislation re-defines the crimes of Rape in the First Degree, Rape and the Second Degree and Rape in the Third Degree to include oral sexual conduct, anal sexual conduct, and aggravated sexual contact in addition to sexual intercourse as an element of these rape charges.
"Pena and his defense team found a way to get away with rape," Simotas said. "This legislation will ensure that no other victim will face the same indignity that this Bronx schoolteacher suffered."