Two former New York City cops slipped through a crack in New York law and now will serve just five months’ probation for having sex in the back of a police van with a handcuffed 18-year-old they’d just arrested on a marijuana charge.
Prosecutors fought to have Eddie Martins, 39, and Richard Hall, 34, imprisoned for at least one to three years on the official misconduct charges to which they pleaded guilty, the BBC reports. But New York state Supreme Court Justice Danny Chun found the credibility of the victimized 18-year-old to be “seriously, seriously questionable,” and handed down the much lighter punishment.
Martins and Hall were initially charged with rape, but those charges were dropped. The men claimed the sex was consensual, and they exploited a legal loophole, saying that it was not illegal under New York law for cops to have sex with someone who was under arrest, as long as the sex was consensual.
(As the BBC notes, New York lawmakers changed the law a year later as a result of this case.)
Brooklyn District Attorney Eric Gonzalez said that while his office wanted stiffer punishment, at least the two men are no longer police officers, stating, per Gothamist:
“While I would have preferred to see them serve prison time, they are no longer members of our police department and with today’s plea are convicted felons,” Gonzalez said. “We could not apply the new law retroactively, and serious credibility issues in this case precluded us from proceeding on additional charges, yet we remained committed to holding these defendants accountable.”
In 2017, Martins and Hall were narcotics detectives in New York City’s Brooklyn borough when they stopped the young woman and her friends at a park. The pair said they found marijuana and the prescription drug Klonopin in the friends’ car, and they arrested the 18-year-old on marijuana charges, handcuffing her and throwing her into a police van, Gothamist recounts.
They drove off, calling the teenager’s friends from a blocked phone and warning them not to follow, Gothamist reports. The two detectives then took turns having sex with the teen, before forcing her to take one of the Klonopins, and letting her go free, warning her to keep her mouth shut, prosecutors alleged.
Martins and Hall never filed paperwork on the marijuana charge.
The teen went to a hospital, where tests confirmed the two men had had sex with her, according to the BBC.
Prosecutors initially charged the then cops with rape, but those charges were dismissed, and reduced to charges of official misconduct.
A lawyer for the teen, who has filed a federal civil suit, says he and she are “outraged” by the outcome of the case.
“If you’re arrested and kidnapped in a van with two large officers with guns, there’s no consent. They’re getting away with rape,” attorney Michael David told Gothamist. “It sends a horrible message to victims of police sexual misconduct.”