Saying he had nothing but "scorn" for a former police officer who sexually assaulted a 24-year-old teacher on her way to work, a judge sentenced the ex-cop to 75 years to life in prison today.
Michael Pena, 28, was sentenced to the maximum penalty for his convictions of three counts of sexual assault.
Pena, who was off duty, was convicted of the Aug. 19 sexual assault.
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Prosecutors said Pena, who was assigned to a Washington Heights precinct at the time, approached the teacher around 6
a.m., asking directions to the 1 train. Then, he showed
his 9MM gun and forced her through an alley behind a building, where she testified that he raped her.
He was convicted of sexual assault after the defense argued that there was not enough evidence to prove penetration.
The jury was deadlocked on the rape counts, and prosecutors will announce in May whether they will retry Pena for rape.
His defense lawyer, Ephraim Savitt, told reporters the sentence was "draconian."
Pena would be 103 years old before he would be able to see a parole board.
"That day was supposed to be a new beginning," the woman said today in court, referring to the fact that she was on her way to the first day of a new job on Aug. 19, 2011. "He used his weapon, and basically destructed my life with the choices he made that day."
Pena apologized and said, "I'd like to go back in time to the day of this incident and somehow grab myself by the shoulder," according to the New York Post.
But Judge Richard Carruthers had no sympathy for the former police officer, saying, "For you, Michael Pena, there is scorn."
"She was a young woman at the time of the incident, looking forward to teaching underprivileged little children their ABCs, unaware of the evil incident that was about to undertake her," Carruthers said, according to the Daily News. “Michael Pena is a sexual predator. He repeatedly threatened to shoot her in the face. Michael Pena acted purposefully and intentionally throughout this dreadful incident.”
Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance said the sentence was deserved.
“Today’s life sentence underscores the brutal nature of the defendant’s attack on an innocent young woman,” Vance said. “I commend the victim for her bravery throughout this process, and I thank Judge Richard Carruthers for delivering an appropriate sentence that takes the viciousness of the defendant’s crime into account.”
Although the maximum, this isn't the largest sentence for a sex crime – in December, serial rapist Vincent Heyward was sentenced to 428 years to life in prison.