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Manhattan's Secret: Women Drinking Like Carrie and Snooki Are Reporting Rapes More

By Murray Weiss | November 10, 2010 3:25pm
Sarah Jessica Parker, Kristin Davis, Kim Cattrall and Cynthia Nixon attend the UK premiere of
Sarah Jessica Parker, Kristin Davis, Kim Cattrall and Cynthia Nixon attend the UK premiere of "Sex And The City 2" at in London last May. The popular TV show is regarded as making it fashionable for women to drink heavily.
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Gareth Cattermole/Getty Images

By Murray Weiss

DNAinfo Contributing Columnist

Every weekend, women walk into police precincts around Manhattan and in the boroughs. They look awful. They feel awful. They're in pain.

They say they are the victims of rape and sexual abuse — but they're also the victims of alcohol. They were out the night before at a club or frat party, and the next thing they know, they woke up in the morning bruised and hurting and sometimes with the "monster" beside them in bed — a guy "I would never be caught be dead with."

These women are the lucky ones.

The phenomenon of women drinking heavily has become fashionable, and with the success of "Sex and the City" it has exploded. As Carrie Bradshaw and her friends went out and enjoyed their cosmopolitans, women increasingly exercised their rights to knock back shots and binge drink just like the girls did — or, dare I say, just like men. Shows like "Girls Gone Wild" and "Jersey Shore" have only exacerbated things. But there is a frightening side effect turning up in huge numbers in the police and criminal court records.

New York's dirty little secret is as binge drinking has gone up, so has the number of women reporting being raped and sexually assaulted.

We all know the horror stories of women like Imette St. Guillen, who by chance was taken by a psychopathic predator. But I am not talking about murders. I am talking about the stories I hear from prosecutors and detectives about the "lucky" ones who lived to tell — women who put themselves in harm's way by drinking way too much.

In Stuyvesant Town one Sunday, a police chief came upon a young British nanny. She was naked and wearing only a broadsheet page from the New York Times wrapped around her body and a pair of work boots on her feet. She had no explanation how she had gotten there. She remembered meeting a couple of guys at bar near Penn Station. Young men in suits, she thought. Maybe worked on Wall Street.

She remembered little else. She thought she lived nearby when actually she lived on the Upper West Side. She knew one thing for certain: She was in pain from some sort of sex.

Then there was the girl who woke up in a Queens apartment with guy on top of her. She told the police she must have abducted from a Club Land bar in Chelsea where she was the night before.

The detectives diligently wrote down her story and then headed off to find video and surveillance cameras. This scenario plays out every weekend in Manhattan. Cops pulling footage from clubs downtown, the Lower East Side, Greenwich Village, the Upper East and West Sides and Washington Heights.

Of course, they come across images of women being tugged at against their will.

But the cops frequently find their "victim" kissing the guy they "would not be caught dead with" and doing things "I would never do" — and I am talking X-rated public displays.

If you don’t want to believe this cautionary tale from me about women, binge drinking and rape, how about listening to Linda Fairstein. She practically invented sex crime prosecution and, in addition to being a best-selling novelist, continues to represent victims of sex offenses and lecture on the subject at colleges and before women‘s groups.

"All the studies show that the most prevalent date rape drug is . . . Alcohol," said Fairstein who is likely best known as the Robert Chambers prosecutor in the "Preppy Murder Case."

"The fashion of women drinking has exploded," Fairstein told me. "The binging, the 'Let's see how many drinks I can have.' Alcohol puts people in very high risk behavior particularly with people you don’t know very well or in a situation where you are vulnerable."

Women say it's their right to have as many drinks as they want, Fairstein said, and many go out on the town with a buddy system where they agree to go home together. Often there is one who says she is fine and doesn't want to leave because they are talking to some guy, "and then they wake up and they don't know what happened," Fairstein said.

"I see it all the time and it shocks me to this day," said Fairstein. "The woman feels like a rape victim. They think of themselves as rape victims. They were in no condition to give informed consent."

These cases are hard to prosecute, she said. Usually there's little evidence and no eyewitnesses. And then there can be the unflattering surveillance tape.

And these cases cut both ways for the men. Their lives can also be ruined by having the police interrogate or even arrest them in cases were a crime may not have been committed.

Take that case with the Nanny wearing the New York Times.

The detectives figured out that their "victim" had apparently agreed to go home with a Wall Street kid she met at a bar. During the night, she needed to go to the bathroom. She was so drunk that she thought she was at home. The bathroom door she opened turned out to the front door of his apartment.

She found a Times in a hallway to cover herself and pair of work boots on the roof left behind by a construction worker who had been tarring.

She was one of the lucky ones. And so was her "date."

Nicole John, 17, a diplomat's daughter, was not as fortunate. She used to boast on Facebook how she got blasted and lived the life of a wild child. In August, she got so drunk she fell from an Midtown apartment balcony.

Stories about her death overlooked something the medical examiner noted. John's fingernails were torn away. She tried to cling to the balcony cement floor.

And got sober after all.