NEW YORK — Two police officers were acquitted yesterday of raping a drunken woman they had been called to help, as a jury convicted them only of misdemeanor official misconduct charges in a case that pitted a stunning claim of police abuse against the officers’ insistence that it simply didn’t happen.
Looking exhausted but relieved as they left court, Officers Franklin Mata and Kenneth Moreno said they felt vindicated by the verdict, though it could send them to jail and has already prompted the police department to take steps to fire them. Moreno called it both “a lesson and a win.’’
“My intentions were, from the beginning, just to help her,’’ Moreno said. He was accused of raping the woman, with Mata serving as a lookout; the two had returned to her apartment three times after an initial call to help her get home. Moreno, 43, said he did so to check on her, at her request, and to counsel her about drinking.
“I made a judgment call . . . and I paid for it,’’ he said.
Jurors deliberated for about six days before returning the verdict. They found each officer guilty of three official misconduct charges for returning to the woman’s apartment without telling dispatchers or superiors where they were.