Bail set for NYPD officer accused of rape

August 20, 2011 4:58:44 PM PDT
An off-duty New York City police officer accused of raping a teacher is being held on $500,000 bail.

"He was very proud very proud to be a police officer and he was. This is just a surprise for us, just a surprise," Ramona Pena said.

An NYPD officer of three years, engaged to be married and building a life his family was proud of; how, his aunt wonders, could Michael Pena be accused of rape?

"[The] only thing I can say is he comes from a valued and respected family. We don't know, we just don't know," Ramona Pena said.

Baffled relatives gathered in court on Saturday to watch as the 27-year-old faced a judge for the first time.

One day after a 25-year old teacher told police he forced her into the back yard of an apartment building in Inwood as she walked to work.

She says he threw her phone on a roof so she couldn't call 911, then raped her.

Witnesses watching the alleged attack called police for her and when officers arrived the victim reportedly told them quote, "He raped me. Be careful. He has a gun."

Officers recovered the weapon and the badge belonging to the off-duty cop and put him behind bars.

"We are devastated still up to this point," Ramona Pena said.

His bail was set at $500-thousand.

Officer Michael Pena is charged with first-degree rape, criminal sexual act and predatory sexual assault. His defense attorney could not immediately be reached by telephone.

Pena has been suspended without pay. He is an officer in the 33rd Precinct in Washington Heights.

(The Associated Press contributed to this report.)