A New York teen alleges she was raped by on-duty cops after a drug-related arrest. The case has drawn national attention to a legal loophole: in 35 US states, police officers can claim that a prisoner consented to sex.
On September 15th, 18-year-old Anna (no last name given) was hanging out with male friends when two police detectives showed up and questioned them for the fact that they had weed in the front cupholder of the van. Anna says that the detectives let her friends go, handcuffed her, and put her in the back of an unmarked police cruiser. There, they took turns raping her as she cried and repeatedly said “No.” They then dropped her off a quarter of a mile from the police station.
Anna and her mother went to the hospital, reported that she had been raped, and got Anna a DNA test. The semen found in her rape kit matched the DNA of narcotics officers Eddie Martins and Richard Hall (above), both of whom have since quit the force. But the attempt to charge them with rape is far more complicated because, in New York State, there is no law stating that officers aren’t allowed to have sex with people in their custody. Officers who are able to successfully use the consent defense face only an “official misconduct” misdemeanor. Because of this, many police officers accused of rape in the past have chosen to portray their accusers as “temptresses” who came onto them to avoid a criminal record.
Anna has given her version of events to NYPD investigators, lawyers, and a grand jury. She’s also had her social media examined for any evidence of her engaging in sexual activity, from her visit to a porn convention to photos of her wearing a bikini, in an attempt to persuade the District Attorney’s Office to drop charges. In October of last year, the New York Post reported on a letter the defense lawyers had sent to prosecutors that cited her “provocative photos” as evidence against her “dubious claims.”
Anna also alleged that she has experienced in-persona harassment and intimidation from NYPD officers. “They came with nine cops to intimidate her and her mom, to discourage them from coming forward and reporting the rape and sexual assault,” her attorney, Michael David, told The New York Post. “[One officer in particular] kept saying to Anna and her mom, ‘How do you know they were real cops?’” David said. This occurred the night that Anna was allegedly assaulted. “It’s painful,” Anna told Buzzfeed when asked about the alleged harassment she has experienced. “I didn’t know what to expect. I still really don’t.”
Anna, who goes by the moniker “Anna Chambers” on social media, has continued chronicling her struggle on social media. By mid-October, in the thick of the #MeToo movement, Anna’s name became a hashtag. She has amassed 7,000 Twitter followers and 12,000 on her Instagram. “Usually an attorney tells their client to stay off social media, but in her case, it was just the opposite,” David told Buzzfeed. “I didn’t tell her to tone it down. It got her attention. It got her media pressure.”
And the support for her goes beyond the online world. In October 2017, New York City Council member Mark Treyger said her story inspired him to propose a law making it illegal for police officers to have sex with their prisoners. “Our laws regarding sexual consent must be brought into line with basic common sense, empathy, and human decency,” he wrote in a Medium post.
According to David, Anna has been extremely shaken by her ordeal, and she’s “embarrassed” and very depressed.” But, speaking with Buzzfeed, she says that she’s hopeful that her case could be the catalyst for change and that she’s happy to see her case “blowing up.”