An 18-year-old accused two police officers of rape and they may get off on a technicality
A smear campaign targeted at the victim has emerged online.
On September 15, 2017, Anna Chambers of Brooklyn, New York was pulled over by an unmarked police van. Upon discovering marijuana in Anna’s car, Brooklyn South Narcotics Unit detectives Eddie Martins and Richard Hall handcuffed her and released the two young men she was with at the time.
Alone with the detectives, the 18-year-old was led into their unmarked police van where, according to Anna, she was raped by the officers and then dropped off less than a mile from the local police station.
After the incident, the detectives neither made an arrest nor recorded the roadside stop for police records. Yet two weeks after reporting the rape to the authorities, Anna was ticketed for marijuana possession, according to a report by BuzzFeed News.
Martins and Hall, who were initially placed on desk duty, resigned in November after DNA obtained from a rape kit administered at a local hospital matched the detectives.
On January 18, they were brought to court for the first time to face a 48-count indictment which includes rape and kidnapping. Martins and Hall both pleaded not guilty to rape charges in October, admitting that they engaged in sex with the young woman, but that it was consensual. A date for the trial is expected to be set on April 5.
The officers face up to 25 years in prison if they are convicted, but for many who have shown their support for Anna on social media, the verdict is clear.
“We look forward to defending any charges in a court of law rather than in the court of public opinion,” Martins’ lawyer, Mark Bederow, said to reporters in October.
In spite of those remarks, a smear campaign targeted at Anna appears to have emerged online in which her social media posts have been used to attack her credibility.
“I think it’s disgusting the way they keep attacking and shaming her,” Michael David, Anna’s attorney, told local News 12. “And I think the state Legislature is going to have to make new laws to protect rape victims.”
New York is one of 35 states in which law enforcement officers have avoided various sexual assault and rape charges by claiming that the interactions were consensual. According to a Feb 7 BuzzFeed News report, at least 26 out of 158 such cases since 2006 have resulted in acquittal or the charges against officers being dropped.
It’s a seriously shocking gap in the law which New York City Council Member for the 47th District Mark Treyger is now attempting to change. In an October post on Medium he wrote:
“We do not need a change in laws, however, to understand that what occurred was deeply, morally wrong. Regardless of legal outcomes, we know that it is wrong for two police officers to use their positions of authority to engage in sexual activity with a teenager.”
Other states have also attempted to make changes to address the issue in recent years including Alaska, Arizona, and Oregon where closing the loophole was a matter of applying the same standard which currently applies to prison guards.