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Accuser testifies in NYPD rape trial

March 16, 2012 2:34:31 PM PDT
The accuser took the stand on Friday to describe in haunting detail how an off-duty police officer allegedly threatened her with his gun and sexually attacked her on the morning of August 19.

In a show of support, friends and relatives of the 25-year-old victim were in court on Friday for her graphic and emotional testimony.

She testified against Michael Pena, the off-duty New York City police officer accused of raping her.

His defense attorney said Pena admits to at least some of the accusations.

"What he did was unforgivable and it should not be condoned," attorney Ephraim Savitt said.

He says there's no doubt that in Inwood last August, his client pulled a 25-year-old school teacher into an alleyway, and sexually attacked her.

"He did assault her, but there is no rape here," Savitt said.

Still, jurors heard a much different story from Pena's accuser. The trembling and sobbing the teacher pointed at him in court as she testified that Pena showed her his gun, and then raped her more than once.

"I was gagging and trying not to forcibly swallow vomit," she cried. "I said, please, no, no, no."

She then told the jury, she covered her eyes because "he said, if I see your eyes again, I will (expletive) shoot you...."

"It is totally out of his character to do what he did," Savitt said.

Pena's attorney insists that the district attorney will not prove rape beyond a reasonable doubt, but the arresting officers who testified on Friday only cast more of cloud on Pena's character.

One of them described the haunting moment when he realized Pena, in handcuffs, understood all the police jargon.

"I said, 'are you a ...cop?' He said, 'my shield is in my back pocket," the officer testified.

Then he added, "I looked at (the badge). I was disgusted, then I threw it on the ground."

"What they have to prove is that there was a rape here," said Savitt, who added he does not believe the forensic evidence will prove rape.

Pena is currently being held on Rikers Island on $500,000 bail.

Pena's case is the second rape trial involving New York City police officers in the last year. In May, a jury acquitted Kenneth Moreno and Franklin Mata of raping a woman, but found them guilty of official misconduct, a misdemeanor.

The two were called to help the drunken woman get out of a cab in December 2008.

The woman said she awoke to being raped after passing out. Moreno said he cuddled with her in her bed, but there was no sex. Mata said he was napping on her sofa.

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