This 18-year-old woman says she was sexually assaulted and raped by two NYC police officers. The officers' defence? It was "consensual". pic.twitter.com/SIAeOlXgWH— Al Jazeera English (@AJEnglish) October 24, 2017
An explosive, heartbreaking BuzzFeed report reveals how two on-duty cops in New York City are on track to get away with raping a teenage girl.
The victim, identified only as Anna, lives in one of the 35 states where officers can argue that a detainee consented to engage in sexual acts with them.
In September 2017, Anna was approached by two plainclothes detectives while she was sitting in a parked car with two friends. The officers spotted marijuana inside the vehicle and proceeded to arrest Anna while sending her two male friends on their way.
The detectives placed Anna in the back of their unmarked van with tinted windows and then took turns raping her as she remained handcuffed, crying, and saying “No.”
When they were done, they dropped Anna off on the side of the road less than a mile from a police station, which surveillance footage reportedly captured. The two officers failed to draw up any paperwork or make any note of the stop that led them to Anna or the subsequent arrest.
They did, however, leave their semen inside of Anna, which was found when her mother took her to the hospital and nurses performed a rape kit. The bodily fluids of Detectives Eddie Martins, 37, and Richard Hall, 33, of the Brooklyn South narcotics unit were collected. The officers have since resigned and been charged with rape.
Unbeknownst to Anna, the state of New York has no law that specifically states it is illegal for police officers or sheriff’s deputies on duty to have sex with someone in their custody. All they have to do is claim the intercourse was consensual and the case becomes a matter of their word against hers.
An officer found to have had sexual contact with a detainee is subject to face only a misdemeanor “official misconduct” charge, which carries a maximum one-year sentence, according to BuzzFeed.
“Cultural shifts happen, but what we need to see is a policy shift,” said Tara Burns, an advocate in Alaska who has worked to expand police sexual assault laws. “There’s a long entrenched history of institutionalized rape culture that has to change.”
Although it's devastating that Anna had to endure such a traumatic ordeal, the one silver lining in her case is that it sheds a spotlight on this dangerous loophole that exists in most of the country. Now, laws are being questioned and officials are vowing to take this issue more seriously.
On Oct. 26, 2017, New York City Council member Mark Treyger announced that Anna’s story had motivated him to propose a bill that would make it illegal for officers to have sex with anyone in their custody.
“Our laws regarding sexual consent must be brought into line with basic common sense, empathy, and human decency,” he wrote in a post on Medium. He also called upon state lawmakers to pass similar legislation.
As Anna's story gained more traction, social media users responded with shock and disgust, especially those who learned their own home states have the same loophole.
I’m sorry officers can claim what now https://t.co/pEecP5Ke10— Imani Gandy (@AngryBlackLady) February 7, 2018
35 STATES?!?!? https://t.co/YUF0gQzhkd— Meghan A (@MKayBrose) February 7, 2018
Alabama is one of the loophole states. https://t.co/Cj3VsI6qcd— Elizabeth Potter Graham JD (@Ms_Liz2) February 7, 2018
Wait, what?— Craig Newman (@craignewman) February 7, 2018
(Illinois is on this list) https://t.co/l5KB0P5i76
Of course Texas is one of the 35 - this needs to end https://t.co/Do4ZPsrUly— NTXProgressive (@NTXProgressive) February 7, 2018
I had no idea this loophole existed in New York and 34 other states. I feel sick. https://t.co/WwNR8ralgr— Delaney Strunk (@delaknee) February 7, 2018
Things I have learned about New York police in the last month:— Jim Waterson (@jimwaterson) February 7, 2018
*They can hand actual "get out of jail free cards" to family members
*They can legally claim that sex with a suspect was consensual when accused of rape https://t.co/7f8mrzsr1Y
Egregious laws of this nature make it much too easy for police to abuse their powers without fear of consequence, which perpetuates a dangerous culture that must change.