Back in January, the New York Daily News first reported the strange story of two NYPD cops who went binge-drinking with an alleged rape victim. In July 2013, the paper wrote, officers Lukasz Skorzewski, 31, and Adam Lamboy, 44, flew to Seattle to speak with a woman who said she was assaulted in someone's apartment in New York City, where she attended college. Somehow, this interview on a very sensitive subject led to Skorzewski and Lamboy partying into the night with the alleged victim. As the 24-year-old told the Daily News, "I was going through this all alone. My family didn't know. It felt good that they were being so nice."
But that niceness included nine hours of drinking, and the officers pleading with the woman not to go to work the next day.
On Monday, Skorzewski and Lamboy pleaded guilty to official wrongdoing—"prohibited conduct"—but will not face criminal charges. And they get to keep their jobs a after a long internal investigation concluded allegations made by the accuser had been "partially substantiated." Whatever happened, it wasn't enough, it seems, to punish the officers with anything besides a, "Seriously? You thought this was OK? Welp, we'd better transfer you!"
More disturbing than this laughably extreme lapse in professionalism on the cops' part is the woman's allegation that Skorzewski groped her and tried to take off her clothes after she was convinced to stay in the cops' hotel room (to sleep off her drunken state). She told the Daily News, "He was insistent on feeling me up ... He tried to work his way up my pants, I pushed his hand away."
This does not sound like a case of signals getting crossed. This sounds like a drunken grope that the officer had no good reason to suspect would be welcomed by the woman. Now, she implies that she liked Skorzewski enough to kept in touch with him—and even talk daily on the phone. But after a month, the case and the friendship with the officer both seem to have collapsed. When the woman asked the cop why he stopped calling, she says he blamed her. And her rape case was never resolved.
Finally, in April 2014, she reported the whole thing to Internal Affairs, and gave them numerous texts and records.
It's difficult to make sense of Skorzewski and Lamboy's lax punishment. Skorzewski got a month of vacation taken away, and was put on unpaid leave for ten days. He was also transferred out of the sex crimes unit, because, well, yeah.
Lamby, who had previously pleaded guilty to being paid for non-existent overtime work, got 15 days unpaid leave, and a month and a half of vacation taken away. He, too, was transferred.
So again, since it apparently needs to be said: When a woman is reporting a rape, don't get hammered with her, don't call her your "favorite victim," don't encourage her to drink more, don't suggest she stay the night, and then don't put moves on her—consensual or otherwise. Even if she semi-forgives you afterwards, don't try to rip her clothes off. Unwanted groping is criminal and can be classified as sexual assault.
In the face of awful things like a naked black man getting fatally shot in Georgia and a shirtless alleged Florida pot dealer getting killed during an early-morning SWAT raid—not to mention the latest in Ferguson—it feels exhausting to care about this story. And hell, punishment happened, right? Isn't that progress?
Except when we're talking about disturbing power dynamics, it's hard to beat a woman who was recently raped on one side, and male police officers on the other. Nobody died here. Nobody was physically hurt. But the punishment doled out to these idiots still feels strangely slight. Back in January, the woman told the Daily News, "I think what [Skorzewski] did was bad enough that he shouldn't be a cop."
Indeed. What are we waiting for here? What possible reason is there to defend these officers when they have proven perfectly well that they have no business being in this line of work?
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