Nightlife Eyed as Reason for Rise in Rapes in Chelsea and Hell's Kitchen
CHELSEA —Chelsea's growing reputation as a bar and club packed hotspot for late night partying may have a darker side.
Data collected in DNAinfo's groundbreaking Crime & Safety Report shows rapes in Chelsea and Hell's Kitchen went up by 67 percent between 2009 and 2010 — from six to 10.
While that's down significantly from 27 rapes reported in the 10th Precinct in 1993, some locals are concerned that out-of-control nightlife may be putting intoxicated revelers at risk of sexual assault.
Sherri Hodes, 62, who said she generally feels safe in her Hell's Kitchen neighborhood, was not surprised by the alarming uptick.
"I don’t think having 200 restaurants with liquor licenses all in a small areas is a good idea," she said. "There’s a lot of rage against these bars who cause so much trouble. They're loud and [customers are] drunk and [it's] dangerous, especially for young girls."
Several rape cases in the area have been linked to the bar-and-club scene. In 2009, Club Duvet closed down after a woman accused a bouncer of raping her in the club's bathroom. Last year, a Windham Garden Hotel bartender was accused of attempting to rape a hotel guest.
Police statistics for rape cases are often inaccurate, as many go unreported.
In the emerging western parts of Chelsea and Hell's Kitchen, some of the most popular bars and clubs are blocks from the subway — which means a longer walk in the dark for bar-goers.
In response, the nightlife industry is taking steps to improve safety in the area. Working with the Manhattan Sexual Assault Task Force, the New York Nightlife Association is putting together a program to train bartenders, bouncers and waitresses to notice the signs of sexual assault and work to prevent them.
"We need education, we need training," said Paul Seres, the association's president. "The more training we have for our staff, the better everyone is."
Seres, who is also co-chair of the Community Board 4 committee tasked with reviewing liquor licenses, said that curriculum includes specialized training to stop someone from trying to take home a potential victim that's had too much to drink.
"Anytime you add alcohol to the mix, you have to deal with all sorts of other things," he said. "Such as people not being rational."