A former member of the New York Police Department is now sharing a shocking story of the sexual assault, abuse, and threats she endured for four years of her employment.
Former NYPD domestic violence officer Maria Mendez has alleged she was repeatedly raped by her former partner and his fellow cop friends for years. Mendez shared her story with the New York Daily News in an extensive interview, and the alleged abuse is also detailed in her 50-page notice of claim she filed with the City’s Comptroller’s office.
The married mother of four additionally claimed fellow cops and superiors ignored the abusive relationship for four years, and named a former FDNY medic-turned-firefighter who allegedly sold her prescription painkillers he stole from overdose victims.
Eric Sanders, Mendez’s attorney, is planning on filing a $90 million lawsuit against the city this year. She quit her job in January, the only way she said she could see out of the situation.
“I’m relieved, but I’m ashamed I didn’t get out sooner,” she told the Daily News. “Every day I blame myself.”
In the interview, Mendez said the abuse began after her maternity leave for her fourth child. She was out of prescription painkillers, used to help her recover from a C-section, when she was put on regular patrol at the 32nd Precinct. Her new partner got her prescription pills, and Mendez soon became addicted.
Eventually, according to Mendez, he started making sexual demands, threatening to out her prescription pill addiction to their employers or send a naked photo he coerced out of her to her husband if she didn't comply.
She said another friend of the partner, who was also a cop, joined in on the alleged abuse. The officers “plied her with alcohol, stolen opioids (Oxycodone, Percocet) and MDMA aka Molly which they sold to her, then under physical and psychological threat, force her to perform deviant sexual acts including anal, oral and vaginal sex inside of department facilities, vehicles and other locations,” according to a statement from her attorney on The Sanders Firm website.
Mendez alleged in the Daily News interview that her peers and superiors were no help: When the cop was initially demanding a naked photo of her, she privately confided to a female officer, who told her to "get over it," Mendez said.
And that wasn’t the only time she heard those three words. That day, Mendez shared, she did give her partner a photo of her in her bra. When she told him that he had “ruined” her after sending him the picture, he purportedly dismissed her.
“He just punched me in the side and said, ‘Get over it.’”
Mendez stated that several superiors, many of whom were women, were no help. “(One woman lieutenant) told me it was all my fault,” Mendez said. “She didn’t care.”
After some time, Mendez said she started to collect evidence, such as taking pictures of bruises, keeping clothes she had worn during attacks, and using her credit card to pay for some of the hotel stays.
Mendez said she finally sought help on when the cop beat her until she was unconscious on January 18 at a hotel in Queens. She called her husband for help, resigned the next day, and is working on filing a lawsuit.
The NYPD, meanwhile, said Mendez never filed formal complaints against the cops named in the notice of claim. The FDNY also said no formal complaints have been filed against the firefighter named by Mendez. All three are still on active duty, according to the Daily News.
An NYPD spokeswoman told the Daily News there was never an investigation because Mendez didn't file a complaint. The department is now reviewing her notice of claim and says it will "initiate any appropriate action then."
Mendez, meanwhile, hopes that her experience and the lawsuit will encourage women cops to seek help.
“I don’t know if [women] realize how badly they are getting abused or if they are so numb to it that they just think it’s normal to be treated this way,” Mendez said in the Daily News interview. “I really believe that if they see how they are getting mistreated and opened their eyes to it, they would put a stop to it.”
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