Cat logomenu

But It Wasn't Rape

Trigger Warning for description of rape.

Lydia Cuomo was waiting for her principal to pick her up and take her to her first day of teaching at a Bronx charter school when a drunk off-duty cop pulled a gun on her and forced her to submit to oral and anal sex. He was later convicted—but not of rape, which New York law defines as forced vaginal intercourse only.

Now Cuomo, 26, is fighting back. She’s lending her voice to a legislative effort to change state law to put forced oral and anal sex under New York’s rape statute.

“I feel like essentially I had a silver platter of a rape case,” she told the Daily News. “I had witnesses, I had DNA, I had my own testimony, I had two cops. I had them saying, ‘We admit he sexually assaulted you,’ and I didn’t get the verdict I needed the first time, and that just highlights to me the problem in the system.”

Now, to be clear, Cuomo’s assailant has been sentenced to a combined 85 years to life in prison, so justice has more or less been served. But allowing a narrow definition like this to stand seems like begging for future rapists to go unpunished because their crimes don’t really qualify as “rape”.