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Michael Pena Mistrial: Rape Charges Refused After Lloyd Constantine And Jury Focused On 'Odd' Points

Posted: 03/30/2012 11:31 am Updated: 03/30/2012 4:37 pm

Michael Pena Rape Cop Mistrial

After Wednesday's shocking declaration of a mistrial in the case against NYPD officer Michael Pena, who was convicted on sexual assault charges but not rape, The New York Daily News is asking "What Does A Woman Have To Do To Prove She Was Raped?"

Shedding light on the question is the report that the jury, led by ex-Spitzer advisor Lloyd Constantine, focused on inconsequential details, casting doubt on the victim's version of events, and ultimately forcing jurors into an insurmountable impasse.

The Daily News talked to one unidentified juror who revealed Constantine doggedly concentrated on "really odd points," most absurdly being the victim's inability to remember the color of Pena's parked car.

Perhaps even more peculiarly, Constantine is friends with Manhattan District Attorney Cy Vance and a former law partner of Vance's opponent in the 2009 election, Richard Aborn. Constantine and Vance are known to dabble in tennis together. In the past, Constantine has also contributed to Vance's campaigns.

Constantine did not divulge these relationships during the jury review process, saying that the questions asked had not prompted him to do so. He said he saw no reason to reveal the relationships other than to avoid jury duty. From The New York Times:

But, [Constantine] added, he had not thought he would be seated on the jury, given his 40 years as a prosecutor, defense lawyer and law professor.

“You don’t want anyone who thinks they know more about the law than anybody else, including the judge and the two lawyers,” Mr. Constantine said. “And when you get as old as I am and you’ve done as much stuff as I have, you start to think you know as much as anybody.”

The mistrial followed an intense testimony given by the victim who said Pena grabbed her by her feet, forced her into a courtyard, and subsequently raped her at gunpoint, threatening he'd shoot her in the face if she either opened her eyes or made any noise.

Discussing the jury's partial verdict, a sex crimes officer said, "Everyone involved in bringing sex criminals to justice is disgusted by that verdict. They’ve ruined this woman’s life."

Note: This article has been updated from a previous version.

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Filed by Inae Oh  |