An NYPD precinct commander’s comments about rape are stirring concern and outrage on social media and among advocates today.
94th Precinct captain Peter Rose made the remarks while attempting to explain why, after reported rapes in his Greenpoint precinct had more than doubled to 13 over the last year, police had made no arrests in ten of the cases.
“It’s not a trend that we’re too worried about because out of thirteen, only two were true stranger rapes,” Rose told DNAInfo in a story published today that did not mention his comments until several paragraphs in. “Every rape should be investigated. I wish we could do more. [But] it really becomes a balancing act for the investigators. Some of them were Tinder, some of them were hookup sites, some of them were actually coworkers.” He added that the cases were dropped because many of the victims eventually stopped working with investigators.
Rose expanded on this theme later at a community council meeting, according to DNAInfo, saying that “If there’s a true stranger rape, a random guy picks up a stranger off the street, those are the troubling ones. That person has, like, no moral standards.”
Experts on sexual assault say the suggestion that rapes committed by someone known to the victim are a lesser priority for police than those committed by strangers likely does not help survivors feel comfortable coming forward. Josie Torielli, the Manager of Intervention at the New York City Alliance Against Sexual Assault, told the Voice that she hopes comments like Rose’s “are an outlier. We often see that people don’t understand why [survivors] wait so long to disclose sexual assault, and certainly factors like not being believed or being taken seriously, or focusing on the relationship with a perpetrator, can be barriers to people feeling safe reporting” their assault. Her colleague, Bryan Aston, added that “any sexual assault, regardless of the relationship with the perpetrator—whether they’re a stranger or an acquaintance— is an abomination either way.”
The Voice made repeated attempts by phone and email to ask NYPD spokespeople whether Rose’s remarks were in keeping with Departmental policy, but the NYPD declined to comment. So did the Office of Mayor Bill de Blasio, who in October observed Domestic Violence Awareness Month by calling on New Yorkers to “recognize and speak out against intimate partner violence, gender injustice and all forms of abuse,” and to “offer unconditional support to someone who has experienced violence.”
Update: At 5:04 p.m., the Mayor’s press secretary Eric Phillips shared the following statement with the Voice via email: “The comments by the Captain do not represent the views of the Mayor, our administration, or of an NYPD that is deeply committed to fighting for survivors of sexual assault. Rape is rape, in New York City and everywhere else. The crime merits no moral qualification and does not involve shades of criminality or degrees of danger. In New York City, rape is aggressively investigated and prosecuted blind to the nature of the underlying relationship, and with an absolute focus on obtaining justice for the survivor and safety for our neighborhoods.”
At 5:26 p.m., NYPD Deputy Commissioner Stephen P. Davis emailed this statement: “Captain Rose’s comments did not properly explain the complexity of issues involved with investigating rape complaints. Every report of rape is thoroughly investigated by specially trained detectives in the NYPD’s Special Victims Unit. All complaints of rape and other types of sexual crimes are taken seriously whether they are committed by domestic partners, acquaintances, or strangers.
Due to the anonymous and random nature of rapes committed by strangers, detectives often face greater challenges in these types of crimes. Regardless, all sexual offenses are taken seriously.”