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Ex-NYPD officer sues for $175 million over 'rape cop' label

NEW YORK (Reuters) - A former New York City police officer cleared of charges of raping a drunken fashion executive in her Manhattan apartment but jailed for misconduct over the incident is suing his accuser and the city for $175 million, his attorney said on Thursday.

The case against Kenneth Moreno, who was acquitted by a jury in 2011 of assaulting the 29-year-old woman while on duty, drew national headlines as a symbol of police misbehavior.

During his trial, Moreno admitted to getting into bed with the woman after being called to escort her home after she passed out in a cab, but he denied ever having sex with her.

The civil-rights lawsuit filed in Bronx Supreme Court on Wednesday claims that the rape allegations against Moreno and his widely watched trial unjustly damaged his reputation and caused him to suffer financially.

"Mr. Moreno is forever scarred with the scarlet letter of 'Rape Cop,'" his attorney Eric Sanders said in a statement. "Mr. Moreno hopes this lawsuit will vindicate his name and make the schemers pay for their malicious conduct.”

Moreno's lawsuit claims that city prosecutors ignored credibility concerns about his accuser during the trial and failed to notice an apparent lack of forensic evidence. It also alleges that Moreno was unfairly targeted for prosecution due to his Puerto Rican ancestry.

The New York City Law Department plans to review the case once it has been served with the lawsuit but will not comment beforehand, a spokeswoman with the department said on Thursday.

Moreno's accuser and her former attorney are also named as defendants in the lawsuit, Sanders said. He said they filed frivolous civil-rights lawsuits during the trial with the intent of extorting money from Moreno.

After being cleared of rape charges, Moreno was found guilty of three misdemeanor counts of official misconduct, which included his faking a 911 call to repeatedly return to the half-conscious woman's apartment on the night of the incident.

He was sentenced to serve a year in prison in 2011 and fired from the police force.

(Reporting by Laila Kearney; Editing by Eric Beech)

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