Updated 08/21/2011 10:51 AM
Off-Duty Police Officer Charged In Inwood Rape Held On Bail
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An off-duty member of the New York City Police Department is being held on $500,000 cash or $1 million bond following his arraignment Saturday on charges he raped a school teacher in upper Manhattan.
Officer Michael Pena, 27, is facing first-degree rape and other sexual assault charges.
Police say Pena was drunk when he approached the 25-year-old woman as she was heading to work Friday morning on a street in Inwood and asked her for directions to the subway.
When the woman resisted, police say Pena opened his jacket to reveal his gun and said, "You're coming with me."
They say he then forced the woman into a backyard and then raped her.
A witness who saw Pena and the woman through her window called police, who arrived a short time later and made the arrest.
Pena's gun was on the ground and officers found his police ID and badge in his pocket.
Investigators say he threw the woman's cellphone onto a roof to prevent her from calling 911 during the attack.
Pena's attorney says his client has a spotless record as an officer and if the allegations prove true, they would be a complete aberration.
He pointed to all the officer's family members who were there in court, who then stood as a show of support.
"A person with a lot of moral value, a family. Really, we are in shock and surprise, just like everybody else," said Ramona Pena, the officer's aunt.
Pena did not address the court.
Meanwhile, the attack has women in the neighborhood on edge.
"Between I think 175th Street and this area, there have been attacks. So you really have to be careful and we all try to be careful. But this is just beyond words," said one Inwood resident.
"It's New York City. Things like this happen all the time in New York City. Our neighborhood's very safe though," said another.
Pena, a three-year veteran of the force, is assigned to the 33rd precinct in Washington Heights. He has been suspended without pay.
He has been engaged for five years, and his fiancee declined to speak with reporters.
If convicted on the most serious charge, Pena faces 10 years to life in prison.