More than a dozen Big Apple sexual-assault survivors have penned a letter to the Department of Justice asking for a probe into the NYPD’s “ongoing mistreatment of gender-based-violence” victims and its alleged failure to properly investigate their circumstances, The Post has realized.
The letter — despatched Monday to US Attorney General Merrick Garland, his high deputy, Vanita Gupta, and the assistant lawyer normal of the DOJ’s Civil Rights Division, Kristen Clarke — asks the feds to open a “patterns-or-practice” probe into the NYPD to study allegations of gender bias when investigating intercourse crimes.
“Because we wanted to protect others from the kinds of harm we suffered, as well as to seek justice for ourselves, we reported our assaults to the NYPD,” says the letter, signed by 19 folks — 17 gender-based-violence survivors and two moms of victims.
“We expected that the well-funded, technologically sophisticated police agency of the nation’s largest city would respond to our assaults with professionalism and with thorough, skillful, truth-seeking investigations,” the letter states.
“What we experienced was the opposite.”
The survivors wrote that their circumstances had been assigned to officers who both didn’t know what they had been doing or didn’t appear to care, failing to interview key witnesses or acquire essential surveillance footage.
One particular person was requested by her detective if she was “sure” she needed to prosecute her attacker as a result of “who knows, you could end up dating him,” and a disabled survivor was requested in the event that they had been positive they “fully understood” their rape, the letter says.
“In many cases, these failures damaged our cases beyond repair and destroyed our hopes of seeing our attackers held accountable,” the letter states, calling the NYPD’s response to intercourse crimes each “negligent and sexist.”
Leslie McFadden, one of many letter’s signers, advised The Post she anticipated a swift and thorough investigation when she reported her rape to the NYPD in October 2015 however as a substitute, she was tricked into closing the case.
“The very first thing that the detective asked me when he was interviewing me was essentially, ‘Is this really a case of assault, or is it a case of regret?’” McFadden, 37, defined by telephone.
“So I had to start my conversation with this detective defending myself, having to explain why I was wasting his time with my rape, and it just went downhill from there.”
The content material designer, who now lives in California, mentioned she was requested to document a telephone name together with her attacker that she wasn’t correctly ready for, and on the finish, whereas she was sobbing and in misery, the detective shoved a doc in entrance of her and requested her to signal it.
“What he didn’t tell me was that it was a case-closure form, and he used that form to close my case without my knowledge shortly after I signed it,” McFadden mentioned.
“From the very beginning, I was lied to, I was dismissed. … It has been a gut punch to deal with [the NYPD].”
Desdemona Dallas Meck, who additionally signed the letter, was 22 years outdated when two men attempted to rape them in The Bronx in 2010. When they later reported the crime to a feminine NYPD detective, they had been advised they “should toughen up” and requested in the event that they had been positive they didn’t do one thing to point out they needed to have intercourse with the boys.
“Her saying that did bring up a lot of guilt for me, and I carried that for a long time thinking this was my fault, and that’s not fair,” Meck, who makes use of “they/them” pronouns, advised The Post.
“There needs to be more training for NYPD officers to recognize the nuances of these situations and that even when someone is working in the best interest of the victim, they still may be saying something that is traumatizing or isn’t supportive.”
The letter says the problems the survivors confronted, primarily within the NYPD’s Special Victims Division, usually are not “isolated” situations however half of a bigger “systemic” drawback that has but to be fastened, even after a scathing Department of Investigation probe in 2018 discovered the division was woefully understaffed and under-trained.
“We have learned that the NYPD currently assigns less than one percent of its force to handle all cases of sexual assault and all cases of child abuse for New York City, and that Special Victims investigators have made it clear for years that they lack adequate staff to conduct thorough sexual assault investigations,” the letter states.
“We have learned that inexperienced ‘white shields’ (officers who are not even detectives) are assigned to the Special Victims Unit and put in charge of rape cases, and that they receive grossly inadequate training once there.”
An NYPD rep responded with an announcement saying SVD investigators “convey a victim-centric and evidence-driven strategy, and work tirelessly to construct the strongest doable case.
“The NYPD is committed to ensuring that all sexual assault survivors feel the safety and support needed to come forward and help the NYPD bring them the justice they deserve,” the assertion mentioned.
“The NYPD has made major improvements to strengthen the Special Victims Division with a victim-centered approach, including a new commanding officer whose background includes forensic nursing, adding investigators to the squads, working with victim advocates to offer support and services to survivors and deepened training to amplify the Department’s ability to respond effectively to survivors, while continuing to conduct full and thorough investigations.”
Federal regulation provides the DOJ the authority to open sweeping “patterns-or-practices” investigations into any law-enforcement company of its selecting, and the probes can middle on points similar to racial bias and use of pressure, in addition to alleged failures to defend.
If systemic violations are discovered on the finish of the investigation, the DOJ will work with the company to guarantee the problems are remedied, and in the event that they aren’t, can file swimsuit to safe the required reforms.
Since President Biden took workplace, the DOJ has opened such investigations into the Minneapolis Police Department and the Louisville Metro Police Department after the police homicide of George Floyd and the dying of Breonna Taylor.
The DOJ didn’t return a request for remark asking if it plans to additionally open an investigation into the NYPD.
The letters’ signers mentioned that if the DOJ does open a probe, the feds can be sending a “message that ladies and survivors are totally equal human beings, entitled to equal safety.
“Experiencing sexual assault was horrific, but for many of us, the ordeal of having our cases neglected, trivialized, and discarded by the NYPD added a whole new layer of trauma that was as devastating as the crime itself. For some of us, it felt even more devastating than the crime,” the letter states.
“We worry—more than our case detectives ever did—about the perpetrators who attacked us. We wonder how many other people they have gone on to harm, because the NYPD failed to take action to stop them. Our ability to heal from the trauma of sexual assault was badly compromised by the NYPD’s failure to treat our assaults as if they mattered.”