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Women's Activists Demand NYPD Reinvestigate 2016 Acquaintance Rapes

By Gwynne Hogan | January 10, 2017 5:28pm
 Protesters gathered in front of the 94th Precinct stationhouse Tuesday afternoon.
Protesters gathered in front of the 94th Precinct stationhouse Tuesday afternoon.
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DNAinfo/Gwynne Hogan

GREENPOINT — Members of the National Organization for Women rallied outside the 94th Precinct stationhouse Tuesday afternoon — demanding the NYPD reopen unsolved acquaintance-rape cases in Greenpoint in which victims were deemed uncooperative, after the precinct commander revealed he did not prioritize this kind of sexual assault.

The group also called for a meeting with NYPD Commissioner James O'Neill to discuss department-wide reforms to the way acquaintance-rape cases are handled.

The protest by the National Organization for Women came after 94th Precinct commander Capt. Peter Rose said that he "wasn't too worried" about the increase in sexual assaults in which the victim knew her attacker because they weren't "total-abomination rapes where strangers are being dragged off the streets."

His comments triggered sharp critique from the mayor's office, top brass at the NYPD, and federal, state and city elected officials, as well as igniting a fury on social media. Rose apologized Monday evening, saying that his "comments were not meant to minimize the seriousness of sexual assault."

"It's good that he apologized, but the apology doesn't fix the problem," said Jane Manning, the director of advocacy of NOW.

Her organization is asking the NYPD to provide an analysis of why victims were deemed uncooperative and for better data about citywide arrest rates in acquaintance rapes versus stranger-rape cases. NOW wants to see if the issue is unique to the 94th Precinct, where just three arrests were made in 13 sexual assault complaints last year.

Of those arrests, two were considered stranger rapes, while a third was deemed an acquaintance rape involving a minor who became pregnant, DNAinfo New York reported. In the 10 remaining cases where no arrest was made, two were attempted rapes by taxi drivers and the rest occurred between acquaintances, including coworkers and people on Tinder dates.

O'Neill called Rose's comments "insensitive," in a Daily News op-ed published Tuesday, and reiterated an earlier statement that both stranger rape and acquaintance rape were handled in the same way by the department.

O'Neill detailed steps the NYPD had taken to better reach victims, including pamphlets about sexual assault, poster competitions, the creation of a special hotline for victims of sexual attacks and trainings of transit officers with the nonprofit Hollaback. They've also placed two victims advocates in most precincts, he wrote.

"[The commissioner is] saying a lot of the right things, but his message is not filtering down to everyday practice by officers in every precinct," said Manning, who advocates directly for victims who've been sexually assaulted.

"We see way too many cases in which victims of acquaintance rape are met with hostility and disbelief from the very beginning, even when the evidence supports their account."

NOW wants a department-wide plan to ensure that everyone from precinct captains to patrol officers know that all rapes should be treated the same way.  


Another national organization, UltraViolet, started a petition that garnered more than 45,000 signatures demanding Rose be fired. However, police sources said the captain, who has an otherwise clean record as the head of an NYPD precinct, will likely keep his job.

As a small crowd of protesters gathered across the street from the 94th Precinct at 100 Meserole Ave. Tuesday afternoon waving signs saying, "Swipe Left for RAPE CULTURE" and "A RAPE IS A RAPE IS A RAPE," as police officers in blue windbreakers guarded the front of the precinct.

One officer said Rose wasn't at the precinct and that he had left to attend a meeting, one of many he'd been called to since Friday when DNAinfo reported on his comments at a public community council meeting earlier in the week. 

The officer declined to comment further and deferred questions to NYPD headquarters, which didn't immediately return a request for comment.