Charges have been dropped against an off-duty Staten Island police officer charged with two counts of first-degree rape, after a grand jury last week refused to issue an indictment. Arthur Roldan was arrested earlier this summer on the rape charges, along with misdemeanor counts of menacing and assault. He was accused of twice sexually assaulting his former girlfriend, once at gunpoint and the second time by holding a knife to her neck.
Roldan had pleaded not guilty to the charges in August, at which time the judge in the case issued an order of protection prohibiting him from having any contact with the alleged victim. He was suspended without pay, and the suspension is still in effect, since the NYPD has not completed its internal investigation.
The action of the grand jury means that it determined there was not sufficient evidence to establish probable cause that the defendant committed the crimes with which he was charged. In that regard, first degree rape in New York is defined under section 130.35 of the Penal Law, which states, in pertinent part, that
“A person is guilty of rape in the first degree when he or she engages in sexual intercourse with another person . . . [b]y forcible compulsion.”
A major issue in “acquaintance rape” cases involves the element of consent. If the alleged victim consented to sexual intercourse, there was no forcible compulsion. This often presents a “he said, she said” situation pitting the testimony of the defendant against the testimony of the complainant. Since there are usually no witnesses, and there may be little or no physical evidence to support the use of force, what is left is a credibility determination as to which of the persons is telling the truth.
Of course, we don’t know what happened at the grand jury proceeding. Indeed, we don’t know who testified, much less what may have been said. Skeptics may suggest that the result in the case up to this point might be the result of the fact that the alleged wrongdoer is a New York police officer. But whatever really happened between the cop and his former girlfriend, the actions of the grand jury show the criminal justice system at work, and support the principal that all defendants are innocent until proven guilty.
George Vomvolakis Law Offices
275 Madison Avenue
New York, NY 10016