A New York City politician is trying to make it illegal for cops to have sex with citizens they arrest, insisting that a citizen in custody is incapable of consenting.
Currently, it is only a violation of departmental policy, which means if a cop rapes a woman in handcuffs, then claims it was consensual, he may end up suspended with pay.
Or at worst, charged with a misdemeanor of official misconduct, which can mean anything and everything.
Councilman Mark Treyger (D-Brooklyn) is drafting the legislation after two NYPD cops were accused of raping a handcuffed 18-year-old woman last month, then claiming it was consensual.
New York City police officers Edward Martins and Richard Hall have been stripped of their badges and guns, but they are still getting paid for working desk duty.
While that might seem like a slap on the wrist, cops tend to view it as prison, according to a 2008 New York Times article.
Some monitor surveillance cameras in housing projects. Others escort prisoners to court or check in patrol cars. And some, true to the police lingo, really do sit behind a desk, shuffling papers and answering phones.
These jobs are known as desk duty, a generic phrase in the Police Department for a range of jobs to which hundreds of officers have been reassigned over the years.
Pulled off the streets, stripped of guns and badges, kept inside four walls and away — as much as possible — from the public, officers who are put on desk duty because their conduct is under investigation find themselves far from the enforcement activities they signed up to do.
“We like to call it the ‘cellblock’ because it is like you are in prison,” said an officer who spent more than 18 months watching surveillance video while authorities investigated an accusation that he had struck a suspect.
Treyger, who represents the district where the woman said she was raped, was outraged to learn there is no law stating there is no consent between a police officer and a person they arrested considering the power dynamics of the interaction, writing the following on Medium.
Nearly a month ago, our community was outraged to hear of an incident that occurred between a teenage girl and two Brooklyn South Narcotics Detectives. As details continue to emerge about what happened the night of September 15th, I remain extremely disturbed by this case, and the troubling implications it has for police-community relations.
The Brooklyn DA’s office is actively investigating, and, reportedly, a grand jury has been convened to evaluate criminal charges against the two detectives involved. As the criminal investigation proceeds, however, we, as a community, need to have a conversation about the nature of sexual consent, and our expectations of both authority figures and victims of sexual assault.
New York State law wisely takes into account the impact that involvement with the criminal justice system has on the ability of individuals to give sexual consent: by law, those incarcerated are incapable of giving consent to corrections workers, and those under community supervision are incapable of giving consent to their parole officers. Necessarily, the power dynamics between a trusted agent of our criminal justice system and an individual under supervision mean that no sexual consent can be given entirely free from coercion.
Unfortunately, state law does not currently apply the same rigorous standard of consent to incidents of sexual contact between a police officer and someone under arrest, temporarily detained, or otherwise subject to law enforcement activity. I am pursuing legislative action on the City level to make it illegal for an NYPD officer to engage in sexual conduct with someone in the course of law enforcement activity. Likewise, I urge my colleagues in the New York State Legislature to work quickly to remedy this omission in the Penal Code. Our laws regarding sexual consent must be brought into line with basic common sense, empathy, and human decency.
The victim in the latest case, who goes by Anna Chambers on social media, was arrested on September 15 for possession of marijuana and prescription pills.
The two cops also found prescription drugs on one of the two male friends she was with, but they had no interest in him, ordering the two friends to leave the area as they took her into custody.
She said she was handcuffed and placed in a van where she was ordered to perform oral sex on both cops. She also said one of the cops raped her.
They then ordered her out of the van and drove off, where one of her male friends found her 45 minutes after they detained her.
According to the New York Daily News:
“She was like ‘They just f—– me,’ ” the friend said. “I couldn’t have done anything but it was definitely just one of those damn moments.”
The friend took the victim to her parents, who rushed her to Maimonides Hospital for an exam. Doctors there found signs of sexual assault and called police who started the investigation, David said.
When confronted with the allegations, the cops readily admitted they had sex with the woman, but claimed it was consensual, which was a laughable excuse if it weren’t so tragic.
But they obviously knew there was no law against having sex with handcuffed citizens, which is why they have not been arrested nearly six weeks after the incident.
“The investigation is ongoing and the information is changing hourly,” said Michael Palladino, the president of the Detectives’ Endowment Association.
In other words, the accused cops are now attacking her credibility, pointing out that she tends to post provocative photos on herself on her social media accounts – which is still no excuse for rape.
Chambers has filed a notice to sue the city, which the cops are also using to attack her credibility.
On Monday, she testified before a grand jury, which tend to side with cops if history is any indicator.
But her attorney, Michael David, remains headstrong.
“We will continue to stand and repeat our demands that justice be served over the most brutal rape and sexual assault ever committed by on-duty officers in the NYPD,” he said.