There appears to be something of a legal resolution in the controversial case of former NYPD officer Michael Pena, who was convicted of predatory sexual assault for the oral and anal sodomy (but not, specifically, rape) of a 24-year-old schoolteacher in May. A hung jury on the charge of rape caused The New York Daily News to ask "What does a woman have to do to prove she was raped?" on a dramatic cover, and at the time there was talk of a possible retrial. Update below.
That may be unnecessary now. Later today, according to The New York Post's Laura Italiano, Pena is expected to plead guilty to rape, allowing "his schoolteacher victim to avoid a retrial for rape-related charges for which he had been acquitted, his lawyer said this morning." Translation: This is a plea deal, the conditions of which reportedly stipulate that Pena will not be given significant or any additional prison time related to the plea.
Of course, Pena has already been sentenced to 75 years in prison for the three counts of predatory sexual assault upon which he was convicted, which means he would be 103 years old before coming up for parole. He'd get another 25 for the rape charge if not for the conditions of this plea deal. The benefit of the plea is that the victim doesn't have to participate in a trial again, but rape is finally acknowledged, which may bring her some closure. While there is some satisfaction in having Pena admit to what many people had believed all along to was a rape, the fact is, his victim will be dealing with the trauma ove what happened to her for long after this is out of the headlines.
At least she'll know Pena is still in jail, either way.
A statement from the DA's office is forthcoming; we'll update this post when we receive it.
Update: Pena has pleaded guilty on two counts of rape and two counts of predatory sexual assault as they pertain to the rape charges, with the sentence to run concurrent with his existing sentence. Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus R. Vance said in a statement, “Michael Pena took responsibility for his violent criminal actions and will serve up to life in prison. This plea spares the victim from testifying again about the crimes committed against her, and it is my hope this resolution brings a brave young teacher a measure of justice and closure.”
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