Assemblymember Aravella Simotas has introduced a new bill that would define rape as sexual conduct rather than sexual intercourse, preventing criminals from escaping charges on a “technicality.” The assemblymember’s actions come in response to the State Supreme Court Justice’s declaration of a mistrial on the rape charge against former New York City Police Officer Michael Pena, who was convicted of several other charges for holding a Bronx school teacher at gunpoint, threatening her life and forcibly sodomizing her, but not convicted of the top count of rape.
No verdict was reached on the rape charge despite evidence of the defendant’s semen in the victim’s underwear, eyewitness testimony and the victim’s own account. The current law states a rape charge requires an element of penetration.
“Common sense dictates that what happened to the victim in this case is rape,” said Simotas.
The proposed legislation re-defines the crimes of rape in the first, second and third degrees to include oral sexual conduct, anal sexual conduct and aggravated sexual contact, in addition to sexual intercourse, as an element of rape charges.
“Pena and his defense team found a way to get away with rape,” Simotas said. “This legislation will ensure that no other victim will face the same indignity that this Bronx schoolteacher suffered.”