NYPD officer Kenneth Moreno leaves Manhattan Criminal Court. (April 15,...

NYPD officer Kenneth Moreno leaves Manhattan Criminal Court. (April 15, 2011) Credit: Craig Ruttle

The 29-year-old fashion designer who has accused two New York City cops of raping her while she was drunk and helpless was not intoxicated enough to be hallucinating, a substance abuse expert testified at the trial of the two officers Tuesday.

"They do not usually believe they saw pink elephants," said prosecution expert Dr. David McDowell, describing people suffering blackouts after heavy boozing. "What they note is accurate. But they don't note everything."

Prosecutors have charged suspended officers Kenneth Moreno and Franklin Mata with rape for allegedly having sex with the accuser after assisting her from a cab to her East Village apartment in 2008. She was vomiting, passing out and blacking out from a day of drinking to celebrate a promotion at The Gap.

Video surveillance shows the officers returning to her apartment three times after escorting her up around 1 a.m. But the prosecution's case has been complicated by the woman's admission that she remembers only brief parts of the evening, and has no memory of some events, such as exchanges with her cabdriver.

Her blood-alcohol concentration was an estimated at .24 to .32 percent, and McDowell said her mental state was complicated by the fact that much of her drinking involved vodka with Red Bull -- a stimulant that would have been combating the depressant effects of the alcohol.

McDowell compared blackouts to a malfunctioning tape recorder that may fail to record or leave only static at some points, but captures reality when it is recording. And he said an event like someone having sex with her might well have triggered a lucid interlude, as she testified.

"A person might remember a lot of details," he said. "The problem with a blackout is the recording, not what you record."

Lawyers for the officers, who told dispatchers they were elsewhere, say they returned repeatedly to the apartment to check on the accuser's well-being. They have denied there was sex and attacked the accuser's memory, while also contending that she was not legally incapable of consenting to sex.

Prosecutors are expected to complete their case later this week, possibly as early as Thursday. A defense lawyer declined to say Tuesday whether the officers will testify.

IDA board mandate … Dem primaries start Saturday … FeedMe: Outdoor dining Credit: Newsday

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IDA board mandate … Dem primaries start Saturday … FeedMe: Outdoor dining Credit: Newsday

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