NEW ROCHELLE, N.Y. – A police sergeant who is married to a New York City anchorwoman was charged Wednesday with the forcible rape of a 17-year-old girl.
New Rochelle Sgt. David Rodriguez, 36, allegedly returned to the girl's home and raped her Feb. 9, just hours after he and three officers had arrested her 35-year-old live-in boyfriend on a domestic violence charge.
The nine-year police veteran pleaded not guilty at his arraignment in City Court, agreed to an order of protection for the girl, then posted $25,000 bail. If convicted, he could be sentenced to up to 25 years in prison.
His wife, Darlene Rodriguez, anchorwoman of WNBC-TV's "Today in New York," was in tears outside the courtroom before the arraignment. But she left the courthouse dry-eyed with her husband and said, "I'm here to support my husband. I believe in him. I love him. He's innocent 100 percent."
David Rodriguez did not speak, but his attorney, Stephen Worth, said the charge was false, the investigation was slipshod and the girl "has a number of motives to make up a false allegation." He did not elaborate.
Police Commissioner Patrick Carroll said the investigation was thorough.
"We took our time," he said. "We didn't jump to any conclusions." Carroll had announced the rape allegation, without naming Rodriguez, more than a month ago, and suspended him with pay. At the time, he said the sergeant had "a sterling record."
On Wednesday, Rodriguez, who lives in Croton-on-Hudson, was suspended without pay pending the results of the prosecution.
Asked how it felt to arrest a member of his own department, the commissioner said, "It hurts. It's a disruption. It's a sad day."
Carroll said last month that on Feb. 8, before Rodriguez was on duty, officers went to the girl's home on a report of a fight and arrested the boyfriend on an assault charge. He was released on bail, and police were called again that evening. This time, Rodriguez was among the responding officers and the boyfriend was arrested again, for violating an order of protection that had been issued that morning.
The girl alleged that early the next morning, Rodriguez, now off-duty, returned and attacked her.
"He engaged the victim and forcibly raped her," the commissioner said Wednesday.
Carroll said last month that the girl did not make any allegation until two days after the attack, when she visited the Westchester County district attorney's office to try to get charges dropped against the boyfriend. He said that made it difficult to gather physical evidence.
On Wednesday, no evidence was mentioned in court and Carroll said he could not comment on details of the investigation.