The New York Senate unanimously approved a bill establishing an officer's sexual encounter with a person under arrest — or in jail or prison — as rape due to the detainee's "incapacity to consent."
"I am proud that this common sense reform closes this egregious loophole once and for all," New York Governor Andrew Cuomo told BuzzFeed News.
"There are 34 states that don't have any laws concerning this. So Anna and I are calling on all these other 34 states to adopt the laws that New York has enacted," attorney Michael David, who represents Chambers in her civil suit, told Sputnik. "This should come national. I don't know what these other states are running from. It's really, really late in the game."
Because of the prior "loophole," the criminal case against officers Eddie Martins and Richard Hall hinged on the prosecutions' ability to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that 18-year-old Anna Chambers did not consent to sex with the officers while she was handcuffed and in the back of the police van.
The case sparked several protests in New York City since it was first reported.
— Ash J (@AshAgony) October 18, 2017
"Concerning a case like hers, they won't be able to use the defense of consent, so obviously it'll make a conviction a lot easier," David said of the new law, but stressed that it "doesn't make a difference" in the actual prevention of the crime.
"Unfortunately, rapists don't look at the laws," David said. "I think it's going to stop situations where, say with sex workers or something. I hear a lot of that goes on — you know — the cops taking advantage of them. I think it will help with those situations. But the cops that are pure rapists, like what happened [with Chambers]… what I'm saying is: in a situation like this, where they just kidnapped her off the street, it doesn't matter what the law is, they're going to rape."
David says that the NYPD must change for Anna Chambers and others to truly get justice. "I think the whole police culture has to change. They need to better scrutinize when they have new recruits, as to their prior history. They have to go over their social media — to make sure they don't bring these sexual predators onto the force. Because they're not doing a good job right now."
— Ash J (@AshAgony) December 1, 2017
A grand jury delivered a 50-count indictment against the two officers on rape and kidnapping charges, but two of those counts were dropped by the judge over redundancy concerns.
According to the prosecutor in the case, Frank DeGaetano, Chambers was in a car with two male friends when two Brooklyn South Narcotics Unit detectives pulled the vehicle over for marijuana possession.
During the stop, they ordered Chambers to reveal her breasts and within minutes placed her alone into their van under arrest. The arresting officers asserted that they had found a small amount of marijuana and anti-anxiety pills in a cup holder and handbag, according to the prosecutor.Detective Martins then called one of Chambers' friends from a blocked cellphone number to tell them not to follow in their vehicle, DeGaetano said, and later took turns raping her. The detectives' DNA was discovered on Chambers with the use of a rape kit at the hospital after she was released by her abductors — without charges filed.
While at the hospital, nine NYPD officers confronted Chambers in an attempt to intimidate her, according to Michael David.
— Ash J (@AshAgony) January 18, 2018
The officers sat across the courtroom from Chambers in January. Their next court appearance is April 5. David says that he expects a criminal trial to begin in September.
Until then, "these cops should not be on bail," David said."They should be locked up right now. Because if this was private citizens, who brutally — again this was a gang rape, if this was private citizens who gang-raped somebody, they'd be in jail right now. There'd be no bail. Or there'd be a crazy high bail that they wouldn't be able to put up. These guys are free now."
David stressed the personal toll that the proceedings have taken on his client, separate from her contact with the officers. He called on legislators to "change the laws so these rape victims don't get smeared and shamed the way they're trying to smear her. It's disgusting what they're doing to her and there's no laws to protect her," David told Sputnik, adding that both the police and City have tried to "shame her."
A spokesperson for the Brooklyn DA office called some of the characterizations of "how a rape victim should behave" made by the officers' defense counsel "inaccurate, inappropriate and demeaning."
"They have to do some laws to protect these rape victims," David said.