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Rape Suspect Has Long History of Mental Illness

303 East Eighth StreetDaniel Maurer The alleged rape occurred outside of 303 East Eighth Street.

The 51-year-old accused of the brutal and brazen rape of a woman on Eighth Street on Saturday morning spent seven years being shuffled between city jails and state mental health institutions.

Neal Essex, who was scheduled to appear in criminal court today, spent a total of 1,350 days behind bars over the course of seven separate jail bids; all of which were related to a second-degree murder charge in 1984 (The Local was unable to confirm the victim or verdict in the case, but The New York Post reported that Mr. Essex was accused of killing his mother.) Despite all the jail time, Mr. Essex did not end up serving time in the New York prison system, according to a Department of Correctional Services spokeswoman. And, until the alleged rape, he had not been to jail or prison since 1991. Read more…

The Day | More Details on Eighth Street Rape

The Bean on BroadwayScott Lynch

Good morning, East Village.

Some new details about the rape that occurred on East Eighth Street on Saturday morning: DNAinfo finds out that the victim didn’t know her alleged attacker, 51-year-old Neal Essex, and the Post discovers he was previously arrested for allegedly killing his mother in 1984.

Jeremiah’s Vanishing notices a “for sale” sign indicating that playwright, poet and performance artist Edgar Oliver no longer lives at the townhouse at 104 East 10th Street that inspired his one-man show, “East 10th Street: Self Portrait With Empty House.”

Off The Grid takes a look at the history of Third Avenue between 10th and 11th Streets. The block was once home to Sig Klein’s Fat Men’s Shop, which counted Babe Ruth as a customer, and is still home to New York Central Art Supply, which opened in 1905. Read more…

Man Arrested for Rape on East Eighth Street

303 East Eighth StreetDaniel Maurer 303 East Eighth Street

A 51-year-old man was arrested for raping a woman on Saturday morning, an N.Y.P.D. spokesman said.

The victim told the police that the suspect threw her to the ground outside of 303 East Eighth Street at around 8:19 a.m. and attacked her. The suspect was arrested at the scene between Avenues B and C. The victim — whose age was not available — was treated at Bellevue Hospital and had bruising to the face, according to the spokesman.

A resident in the area commented on EV Grieve that a person walked out of a building nearby, saw the crime and called 911.

According to the latest crime statistics, the incident is at least the tenth rape this year in the Ninth Precinct, which covers the East Village.

Second Rape-Case Officer Gets Two Months for Misconduct

A second NYPD officer was sentenced to two months in jail today for his improper interactions with an intoxicated East Village woman while on duty, City Room reports. The sentence for Franklin Mata, 29, comes two days after his partner, Kenneth Moreno, was sentenced to one year for the same incident. City Room quotes the judge as telling Mr. Mata that he “drew the short straw” when he was assigned Mr. Moreno as a partner.

Ex-Officer Acquitted of Rape Gets One Year For Misconduct

One of the two police officers who was acquitted of raping an intoxicated East Village woman in 2009 has been sentenced to one year in jail for official misconduct, the Daily News reports. The officer, Kenneth Moreno, 43 was immediately taken away in handcuffs to begin serving his sentence as his accuser looked on. A jury found Mr. Moreno not guilty of rape in May, but did find him and his partner, Franklin Mata, guilty of misconduct for entering the woman’s apartment without permission. Mr. Mata is expected to be sentenced later today as well.
Update: The sentencing of Mr. Mara has been postponed until Wednesday because his lawyer could not be present, the Daily News reports.

The Day | And, Action!

Hot dog eating contest replayClint McMahon

Good morning, East Village.

There was a little Hollywood action in our neighborhood on Wednesday. DNAinfo reports that HBO filmed part its television series “Boardwalk Empire” yesterday in the East Village. The HBO crew used John’s Italian Restaurant, which is on 12th Street between First and Second Avenues, as the backdrop for a few scenes. “Boardwalk Empire” is a television drama that takes place in Atlantic City and stars Steve Buscemi, who plays a corrupt politician named Enoch “Nucky” Thompson. It is produced by Martin Scorsese.

Speaking of show business, EV Grieve reminds everyone that the EPIX Movie Free-for-All series continues tonight with a showing of “Coming to America.” In case you didn’t catch the announcement, EPIX is sponsoring a movie night once a week outside at Tompkins Square Park from now until Sept. 1. Next week, they’re showing “The Warriors.” The gate opens at 6 and the movie starts at sundown.

Finally, DNAinfo reports that one of the former NYPD police officers who was acquitted of rape is also charged with drug possession. Kenneth Moreno, 43, was indicted in 2009 on charges that he housed heroin in his locker at the Ninth Precinct. Prosecutors searched Mr. Moreno’s locker after he was arrested on rape charges stemming from an incident in December 2008. In May, Mr. Moreno and his former partner, Franklin Mata, were acquitted of raping a woman in her East Village apartment. However, Mr. Moreno’s drug charges remain open and active on the docket, prosecutors told DNAinfo.

Board Weighs In On Sentencing

Community Board 3 passed a resolution Tuesday night condemning the actions of the two former Ninth Precinct police officers who were convicted of official misconduct in May. The former officers, Kenneth Moreno and Franklin L. Mata, were acquitted of all other charges from the 2008 incident in which a woman said that she was raped by the officers after they helped her to her East Village home. The resolution calls on the sentencing judge to impose the harshest possible punishment on each of the men — two years in prison.
Laura E. Lee

Officers Found Not Guilty of Rape

Two East Village police officers were found not guilty today of raping a drunken woman after helping her home to her apartment. The officers, Kenneth Moreno and Franklin Mata, were convicted of official misconduct for entering the woman’s apartment but acquitted on all other charges; Mr. Moreno and Mr. Mata, who worked in the Ninth Precinct, had been indicted in 2009 and their trial lasted almost two months. Visit The Times for complete coverage.
The Local

Conversation | Blaming the Victim

Philip Kalantzis Cope

If you’ve been keeping up with local news, you probably know that two East Village police officers are on trial for rape, still on the city payroll but excused from their duties until the case is resolved. Statements made before the trial began revealed the following facts. A panicked taxi driver called police for assistance when his passenger began vomiting in the backseat of his cab. Two officers arrived to help her into her apartment. Once inside, she testified that one of the officers raped her while the other played lookout. A surveillance camera shows the two men returned to her apartment three more times that night.

What is their defense? She was too drunk to accurately recall the events that took place. The idea that behavior diminishes victimhood is a familiar one that even the New York Times perpetuated in its reporting of a Texas rape case last month.

“Vicious Assault Shakes Texas Town” was the newspaper’s headline over an article that described the gang rape of an 11-year-old girl from the perspective of a battered and reeling community. Readers were asked to consider where the girl’s mother was through her child’s ordeal; what will happen to the young boys and men now accused of rape; and why this child was hanging around with older boys and dressing, as the writer put it, too old for her age. Of the victim and her future, the writer posed no questions.

The article had little time to idle on newsstands before outrage surfaced. Within 2 days, the public editor filed a response that called the story unbalanced and cited highlights from the Times initial response issued that week. This response explained that he paper did not intend to invoke victim blaming, and seemed to give the reporter his get out of jail free card. In a sentence, “They are not our reporter’s reactions, but the reactions of disbelief by townspeople over the news of a mass assault on a defenseless 11-year-old,” the statement said.

The Local isn’t suggesting that the quotes the writer chose necessarily represent his personal opinion, but that’s really beside the point. The point is, why did it go to print as an incomplete story? Why did paraphrased interviews take such a front running role in the telling of this story?

The New York Times does not make a habit of covering rapes in small towns across the country. The Times chose to cover this because it is as unusual as it is horrific. Nearly 20 individuals— children and adults— coordinated to attack a small child, and yet, the coverage makes no effort to unpack the very element that made this a New York Times story.

The article states that the events occurred around Thanksgiving. Why not wait until the rest of the story unfolded in order to pay the young victim the attention she deserves? What, The Local wonders, was the rush?

But the fact that The Times printed the story in the state it did isn’t the only source of confusion. The article suggests an entire town is rallying behind a group of gang rapists who likely destroyed a child’s life. If this perspective holds true, then the town must be subject to its own set of questions.

Both The Times article, and the local rape case, invoke judgment of a rape victim’s actions to form the basis of an assailant’s defense. They employ the familiar claim — “But she was asking for it!” No, no woman is ever asking to be raped, nor is any child.

Join the conversation: What do we as a society think about a woman’s right to her body? How do these incidents of public victim blaming effect our community?