NYPD Officer Michael Pena was convicted this week of sexually assaulting a young teacher on her first day of work. And yet an eight-man, four-woman jury could not come to a decision on the rape charges against him, resulting in a mistrial and partial verdict. This, despite the victim’s testimony that “it hurt,” multiple eyewitness accounts, and Pena’s semen in her underwear, led the Daily News to ask on its front page yesterday, “What does a woman have to do to prove she was raped?”
Today, the paper reports that three jurors, led by former Eliot Spitzer confidant turned tell-all author Lloyd Constatine, focused “on really odd points” during deliberations, like the victim’s inability to recall the color of a car near where she was attacked. “If she doesn’t remember these details,” one juror said, “how does she know she was penetrated.”
“I am not going to reveal how I voted or how anybody else voted,” Constantine, a lawyer, said after the trial. “This was the product of a very serious sober process by intelligent serious people.” He added, “There is no law that says a jury has to reach a verdict.”
While the jury deliberated on the rape charges, another juror complained about Constantine’s views of the prosecution and it was revealed that he knows Manhattan District Attorney Cy Vance Jr. socially, and that the two even play tennis together. Constantine contributed $5,000 to both Vance and his runner-up for DA, but insisted to the judge that he had “taken my own subjective test [whether] this would in any way shape my opinion or effect me.” (Update: Richard Aborn, who ran against Vance in 2009, is also Constantine’s current law partner and still a potential DA candidate.) Prosecutors are now reportedly looking into perjury charges against Constantine. “If it was an old lady who thought her neighbor was the DA, that’s one thing,” an attorney told the Daily News. “But this guy is a lawyer.”
It’s also not his first time earning dubious notoriety. Just about two years after the Spitzer scandal broke, Constantine released a book about his former boss’s downfall entitled, Journal of the Plague Year. According to the Times, Constantine’s “caustic personality left him with enemies in government, and he freely airs his grievances.” A spokesman for Andrew Cuomo said at the time, “The book is an obvious attempt by the author to excuse his key role in a decidedly corrupt administration.” In a statement, Spizter said, “What Mr. Constantine has written is little more than a self-serving and largely inaccurate interpretation of events mixed with unfounded speculation,” calling the book “a fundamental breach of trust.”
As with Vance, Constantine once shared a bond with Spitzer through tennis, and wrote that when the two stopped playing, it “deprived Eliot of an important physical release,” perhaps leading to his improprieties.