A little-known loophole in New York law is wreaking havoc on an ongoing rape case in which two police officers claim to have had consensual sex with a woman they’d just arrested.
Former New York Police Department detectives Eddie Martins and Richard Hall picked up an 18-year-old woman on marijuana charges in September 2015. She was with two males her age, but Martins and Hall let them go before leading the woman into a police van. She called what happened inside the van rape, but the officers called it consensual.
New York lawmakers say it shouldn’t matter.
State law bans all sexual relationships between prison guards an inmates, however, there is no law specifically banning sexual relations between an officer and someone in his custody, according to The Associated Press. The loophole allows Martins and Hall to argue the encounter was consensual, despite their obvious position of power over the woman.
“I was shocked,” New York Democratic state Sen. Diane Savino told the AP when she heard of the loophole. “It should be clear across the state for officers from every department, that when someone is in custody they do not have the ability to consent to sexual activity.”
New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo helped push a bill to close the loophole. It’s already passed the Assembly and is awaiting vote in the Senate at time of publication.
But New York isn’t the only state to make the oversight – 34 other states lack language specifically banning officers from having sex with those in custody. As a result, the woman’s case has devolved to the he-said-she-said that Americans are more used to seeing on college campuses.
Martins and Hall resigned from the force ahead of a disciplinary board hearing, yet both have pleaded not guilty in court.
They argue the woman, known online as Anna Chambers, but whose last name the court has not revealed, has ulterior motives in the case. She submitted a $50 million claim against the city, and defense lawyers argue that several “provocative” social media posts since the alleged rape give lie to her allegations.
“She has posted Instagram videos of herself using drugs and rapping in her ‘Fi5ty Milli’ persona about the case while joking about the millions that will be ‘in her bank account,” the letter says, going on to cite a Twitter argument in which Anna says “Stop clockin my s- -t u loser, I hope ya mommy gets gang raped gangsta 100%.”
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