A fascinating and harrowing document has come to light in what the New York tabs have taken to calling the “rape cops” trial underway in Manhattan. Prosecutors charge police officer Kenneth Moreno with raping a drunken woman in her East Village apartment in December 2008 while his partner, Franklin Mata, acted as a lookout. The officers had been called to help the woman, who, after a night of partying to celebrate a promotion, was having trouble getting out of a cab. The defense says there was no sex, but that Moreno counseled the woman about alcohol abuse, and at one point kissed her on the shoulder .
Days after the incident the accuser confronted Moreno while wearing a wire for the D.A.’s office. Now the transcript has been made public , and it reads like a David Mamet dialogue, full of half-sentences and unanswered questions, with admissions made and then unmade. The accuser’s memory of the night is in pieces, punctuated by acts of humiliation and violence-her tights being rolled down, being penetrated from behind, the feeling of being too drunk and numb to fight it off. In the taped confrontation with Moreno, she is tireless, going at him again and again. She doesn’t ask whether she was raped-she remembers that part, she says-but says she wants to know whether the officer was wearing a condom. At first Moreno won’t admit that anything untoward happened.
[Accuser]: I need to know if I need to be worried about anything.
Moreno: As far as we, as far as I know, you don’t have to be worried ‘bout anything.
[Accuser]: Like an STD?
Moreno: Ma’am, nothing like that even came close to happening.
The accuser keeps pressing. Moreno won’t admit anything, but he seems to want to reassure her. If he is indeed guilty, he sounds trapped between self-preservation and conscience.
Moreno: You don’t have to worry about anything.
[Accuser]: Why is that though?
Moreno: Because you don’t have to worry.
[Accuser]: Did you use a condom?
Moreno: You do not have to worry about anything. You do not have to worry about anything.
The transcript goes on like this for awhile, with Moreno carefully side-stepping any direct admissions. Then he starts to allude to sexual contact that he appears to imagine (or appears to want to imagine) was mutual. “Ma’am, Ma’am, listen,” he tells her. “It was … it, it turned from us trying to help you, to getting really crazy, ok?” He alternates between describing the accuser as falling-down-drunk (“you even urinated on yourself a little bit,” he tells her), and sober enough to forge a connection with him ("You walked up the stairs pretty much by yourself,” he tells her).
Moreno: Ma’am, you asked me to come back. I’m just telling you the honest to goodness truth. You asked me to come back. OK?…
[Accuser]: Are you kidding me? You just said I was puking and pissing all over myself. If I was really that f–ked up, you should have taken me to the hospital.
At last, with the accuser threatening to make a scene in front of Moreno’s colleagues, he again insists that nothing happened, but that, in the interests of preventing her from embarrassing him, he will “admit to something that never happened.” “Did you use a condom?” she asks again. “Yes, yes I did.” She asks if the other officer also had sex with her.
Moreno: It was only me. OK. It-it wasn’t like that. OK? It wasn’t like that at all.
The end is where the transcript gets strange and sick and stomach-churning. It’s where, if I were on the jury, I would find the defense’s version of events most unlikely. Moreno appears to have a crush on the woman, to think she was as sober as she needed to be to consent to whatever it is he alternately insists did and didn’t happen. He asks her if she has a boyfriend. He says, “I am sincerely, sincerely sorry and I really meant to call you … I just got caught up. I’m not a bad man, you know? In fact if you want to get to know me, I mean like friend-wise, I’m a good friend to have and…”
The accuser cuts him off. In this dialogue were ever put on stage, here is where the audience would hear disgust in her voice. “I want to go,” she says. “I’m gonna go.”