U.S. News

NY police officers plead innocent in sodomy case

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Three New York City police officers pleaded innocent on Tuesday to charges one of them sodomized a man with a police baton on a subway platform and two others helped cover up the crime.

Detective Richard Kern, 25, was charged with aggravated sexual assault, which is punishable by up to 25 years in prison, and other charges.

Andrew Morales and Alex Cruz, both 26, are charged with participating in the attempted cover up, which included writing a summons for the victim following the assault. If convicted, each faces up to four years in prison.

“I’m pleased but it still hasn’t changed what happened to me,” the victim, Michael Mineo, 24, told reporters after the arraignment. “I still have abdominal pain, rectal pain.”

His lawyer, Kevin Mosley said, “It was, for all intents and purposes, rape.”

According to prosecutor Charles Guria, Kern and Morales observed Mineo, who works at a tattoo parlor, smoking a marijuana cigarette as they sat in an unmarked police car in the early afternoon on October 15 near Brooklyn’s Prospect Park.

Cruz and another officer arrived to provide backup and Kern and Cruz followed Mineo into a nearby subway station, Guria said in court.

“Several officers held Mineo down and rear handcuffed him, and Kern anally assaulted him with a retractable baton,” the prosecutors office said in a statement.

Speaking to reporters after the arraignment, Kern’s lawyer, John Patten, said he had not yet reviewed the prosecution’s evidence but called Kern a “decent young man” who is married with two young children.

“Money’s driving this case and they’re looking for a payday,” Patten said of Mineo and his lawyers.

Kern was released on $15,000 in bail and a $15,000 bond. Morales and Cruz were released on their own recognizance.

The incident has sparked charges of police brutality and recalls the case of Abner Louima, a Haitian immigrant who was attacked with a broomstick in a Brooklyn police station in 1997.

In the Louima case, one New York City police officer was sentenced to 30 years in prison for his role in the attack, and a second officer was given a five-year prison sentence for perjury.

Reporting by Edith Honan; Editing by Michelle Nichols and Bill Trott