City Councilmember Mark Treyger, flanked by local advocates, leaders, and politicians, expressed outrage from the steps of City Hall on Wednesday over a disturbing police-involved rape case in Coney Island and announced new legislation that would ban sex between police officers and those in custody.
Treyger was joined by Public Advocate Letitia James, Assemblymember Ed Braunstein, the National Organization for Women (NOW), victims’ rights attorney Carrie Goldberg, and others who stood in support of the legislation.
“We have to do everything in our power to close this loophole to specifically prohibit and make illegal sexual activity between officers and people in their custody,” Treyger said during an impassioned speech.
The announcement came exactly two months after two NYPD detectives allegedly kidnapped and raped a teenager in Coney Island. Both were arrested and slapped with 50 charges, but Treyger said the loophole makes the case more difficult to prosecute. Braunstein followed Treyger’s lead and announced a push towards legislation at the state level that would make it illegal for police officers to have sex with those in custody.
“Now the DA’s office has to go about proving a rape case, which we know is not easy to do,” Treyger said. “If this was already law right now, what the Assemblyman is pushing, the DA would not have a case that he has to prove. The case is closed. It’s over.”
Treyger’s common-sense legislation is scheduled to be introduced on Thursday. In a post on Medium.com in October, Treyger mention his plans to propose the legislation and noted that the laws need to reflect empathy and human decency.
“We have to act now,” Treyger said. “We have to defend the young person that was raped; we have to defend all survivors of sexual assault and rape. As the public advocate mentioned, whether you’re in police custody or you’re in the office of a Hollywood director, we have to protect everyone that’s going through this battle.”
The disgraced detectives resigned from the NYPD following the indictment and NYPD Commissioner James O’Neill said he would have fired them if they were found guilty of the charges.
The case rattled the community in Coney Island, where Treyger heard from his constituents as the news unfolded.
“The immediate reaction was just this feeling of shock and disgust,” Treyger told Coney Island News at City Hall after announcing the legislation. “This is something that is so horrendous. We’re a close-knit community; when things happen to one of our residents, this hurts us all.”
Attorney Michael David told us the proposed laws are encouraging, but noted that it would have been better if they were already in place. The laws would not apply to his client’s case.
“This law will help future victims in different situations,” he said. “It might stop the police from engaging in sexual misconduct.”