October 28, 2008

Civil Suit Filed In Sexual Conduct With Teen (Lower Hudson Journal)

By Jonathan Damashek

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Shawn Cohen

A teenager who claims she was raped by a New Rochelle police sergeant has filed a civil lawsuit alleging the officer committed the brutal assault in front of her infant.

She told The Journal News yesterday that David Rodriguez was at her house under the pretense that he could help her in a domestic violence case against her boyfriend, who had been arrested the previous night.

He tried to make her jealous, she said, by insisting that her boyfriend had another girlfriend who bailed him out of jail. Then he told her how pretty she was and asked for a kiss. She rejected him, she said, and he raped her as her child slept nearby in a crib.

“He told me afterward to consider this a nightmare and that when I wake up in the morning, it will all be behind me,” she said in Spanish through an interpreter. “He said this was a secret between us and that I shouldn’t tell anyone.” Her lawyer filed the complaint Friday in federal court in White Plains, a month after a rape charge against Rodriguez was dropped and he pleaded guilty to official misconduct after admitting to “sexual conduct” with the girl.

The plaintiff, who is not identified in the court papers, is seeking an unspecified sum of money from the officer, claiming he violated her civil rights at her apartment in New Rochelle on Feb. 9.

The Journal News is not identifying her because of the nature of the case.

The six-page complaint alleges that she was “brutally assaulted, battered, beaten, threatened, falsely imprisoned, detained, humiliated, restrained, sexually assaulted and raped” by Rodriguez.

She was 17 when the alleged act took place, the day after Rodriguez went to her apartment to remove her 35-year-old live-in boyfriend for violating an order of protection.

She reported the incident two days later, when she went to the Westchester County District Attorney’s Office seeking to have charges against her boyfriend dropped.

Rodriguez, who has since resigned from the force, was initially charged with first-degree rape, but authorities reduced the felony charge to a misdemeanor based on their review of the evidence.

Rodriguez acknowledged in court that, while off duty, he “used his authority as a police officer to engage in sexual conduct with the complainant.”

The teen’s lawyer, Jonathan Damashek, said yesterday that she also might sue the city of New Rochelle if he can find evidence that authorities knew earlier that Rodriguez had a “propensity to commit these types of acts.” Roger Bernstein, a lawyer for Rodriguez, said: “The district attorney did not pursue a rape case. We think these allegations are not true. We look forward to trying the case in court.”

Rodriguez and his wife, Darlene Rodriguez, a WNBC-TV anchor, live in Croton-on-Hudson and have teenage daughters.