Number Of Rapes In NYC Hits A Grim Milestone

View Original Article on Patch.com

Cops are trying to grapple with an uptick in rape reports across the city — a trend that’s continued to rise over the last six months, department officials said Wednesday.

In February, the NYPD investigated 122 rape claims, up 39% from February 2017, when 88 rape reports were made.

Since September, the NYPD’s Special Victims Squad has seen an increase in rape reports, according to NYPD Chief of Crime Control Strategies Dermot Shea.

“This is a story that unfortunately has been told several months in a row,” Shea said in a Wednesday press briefing about crime trends in the city.

“There are some statistics that are going in the opposite direction, and rape is one of them.”

Out of the 39 rapes reported in February, 38% of them were domestic, meaning that the rapist was a spouse or a family member. Another 56% were acquaintance rapes.

The remaining 6% were stranger rapes, Shea said.

The startling rape statistics were a black mark on an otherwise rosy outlook on crime fighting in the city.

Comparing last month to February 2017, murders were down 36%, from 22 last February to 14 last month.

The number of shootings also dropped in February by 8%, cops said. Police said that 37 shootings were investigated last month — three fewer than in February 2017.

The reductions come after a record-smashing crime drop in 2017, when only 290 homicides took place — a number not seen since 1951, Mayor de Blasio said at the briefing.

“I think we can all agree what happened in 2017 was unprecedented,” de Blasio said. “We have added to that record of achievement.

Shea believes that the uptick in rape reports may partly stem from the interest in the #MeToo movement following high-profile sex abuse allegations against Hollywood heavyweights like producer Harvey Weinstein.

“It seems to coincide with an increase media attention with different movements that are going on,” Shea said. “It would make sense that the increase, in part, has to do with that.

“When we speak to advocates, some of them view this as a good thing,” he said.

Reported rapes across NYC increase by 39%, NYPD finds

View Original Article on DailyNews

Cops are trying to grapple with an uptick in rape reports across the city — a trend that’s continued to rise over the last six months, department officials said Wednesday.

In February, the NYPD investigated 122 rape claims, up 39% from February 2017, when 88 rape reports were made.

Since September, the NYPD’s Special Victims Squad has seen an increase in rape reports, according to NYPD Chief of Crime Control Strategies Dermot Shea.

“This is a story that unfortunately has been told several months in a row,” Shea said in a Wednesday press briefing about crime trends in the city.

“There are some statistics that are going in the opposite direction, and rape is one of them.”

Out of the 39 rapes reported in February, 38% of them were domestic, meaning that the rapist was a spouse or a family member. Another 56% were acquaintance rapes.

The remaining 6% were stranger rapes, Shea said.

The startling rape statistics were a black mark on an otherwise rosy outlook on crime fighting in the city.

Comparing last month to February 2017, murders were down 36%, from 22 last February to 14 last month.

The number of shootings also dropped in February by 8%, cops said. Police said that 37 shootings were investigated last month — three fewer than in February 2017.

The reductions come after a record-smashing crime drop in 2017, when only 290 homicides took place — a number not seen since 1951, Mayor de Blasio said at the briefing.

“I think we can all agree what happened in 2017 was unprecedented,” de Blasio said. “We have added to that record of achievement.

Shea believes that the uptick in rape reports may partly stem from the interest in the #MeToo movement following high-profile sex abuse allegations against Hollywood heavyweights like producer Harvey Weinstein.

“It seems to coincide with an increase media attention with different movements that are going on,” Shea said. “It would make sense that the increase, in part, has to do with that.

“When we speak to advocates, some of them view this as a good thing,” he said.

Rape reports rise as city continues to see overall drop in crime, NYPD says

View Original Article on AMNEWYORK

Crime during the first weeks of 2018 continued to decline in New York City but one anomaly has been a nearly 18 percent increase in rape complaints, according to the latest NYPD statistics.

Through Sunday, homicides were down 27.6 percent to 21, compared with 29 in the same period of 2017, a year in which the city hit a modern-era record low of 292 killings. Total serious felonies, including burglaries, robberies and rapes, are down 7.2 percent so far in 2018.

But when rapes are broken out as a separate category, complaints have risen 17.8 percent in 2018 to 139, compared with 118 during the same time period in 2017. The uptick in rape reports may be related to the continued prominence of the #MeToo movement, following some high-profile sexual assault allegations, notably against film producer Harvey Weinstein, some police officials said.

The increase in rape reports is one of a number of crime developments scheduled to be discussed Tuesday by NYPD Commissioner James O’Neill and Mayor Bill de Blasio.

Under NYPD record-keeping practices, a rape or sexual assault that occurred months or years ago but was first reported in 2018 will be tallied in the current year. Police officials have noticed upticks in rape complaints for the past couple of years, something they have said privately is a result of victims becoming emboldened enough to report past offenses.

“The #MeToo movement has caused some victims to come forward,” said one NYPD commander in Queens, who didn’t want to be identified. A commander in Brooklyn, who also didn’t want to be named, said investigators believe acquaintance and date rapes have increased because of more dates being arranged online going awry.

Reports of rapes have increased about 41 percent in Manhattan, the largest rise among all of the boroughs, police data showed.

FBI Report Shows Almost 20 Percent Increase in Reported Rapes

View Original Article on NBCBoston

New FBI data shows there has been a spike in reported rapes in the four years since the agency changed its definition of rape, but experts remain unsure how to interpret the numbers.

The FBI’s annual crime report, released last week, showed an almost 20 percent increase in the number of reported rapes since 2013.

The report adds to a growing national conversation about sexual assault incidents and reporting, following Christine Blasey Ford’s accusations that Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh sexually assaulted her 36 years ago, allegations that Kavanaugh denies.

Although the FBI data seems to show an increase in the number of rapes, on a more nuanced level, the new statistics reflect the struggles law enforcement agencies experience in quantifying incidents that often go unreported.

The 2017 Crime in the United States report found a 19.4 percent increase in the number of reported rapes since 2013. It also shows a 0.9 percent decrease in the overall rate for violent crime compared to 2016, although the rate of violent crime has increased by 3.7 percent since 2013.

The report was compiled using voluntarily provided records from local police departments.

For more than 80 years, the agency defined rape as “carnal knowledge of a female forcibly and against her will.”

In 2013, however, the FBI’s Uniform Crime Reporting (UCR) program redefined rape by incorporating the concept of consent, removing “forcible” and specifying the type of acts involved.

The agency now defines rape as the “penetration, no matter how slight, of the vagina or anus with any body part or object, or oral penetration by a sex organ of another person, without the consent of the victim.”

The new definition now includes “male and female victims and offenders, and reflects the various forms of sexual penetration understood to be rape, especially non-consenting acts of sodomy, and sexual assaults with objects,” the UCR staff said in a statement.

Former FBI Director Robert Mueller spearheaded the change after an advisory board for the federal agency’s Criminal Justice Information Services suggested a new definition would produce more accurate statistics, according to a FBI addendum.

There were almost 135,800 reported incidents in 2017 under the revised definition, up 2.5 percent from 2016’s number of reported cases.

There were about 100,000 cases for 2017 under the older definition.

In explaining these disparities, Laura Palumbo, the communications director for the National Sexual Violence Resource Center, said the old definition limited how police departments categorized reports of sexual violence.

“The older definition was problematic in that it seemed to not only exclude those other forms of sexual harassment and assault from the definition of rape, but it also seemed to suggest that wasn’t important data to be capturing and that those cases were not important acts of crimes in the U.S.,” Palumbo said.

Palumbo also said that rape survivors who do report their assaults to law enforcement often face officials who “have limited thinking around the issue of sexual assault.”

Palumbo added that, because police officers are often the first responders to sexual assault victims, they should understand “normal victim behavior, what is a normal reaction to trauma and the wide range of behaviors that fall under sexual harassment, assault and abuse.”

Although the definition has changed, some organizations refuse to include the FBI’s rape statistics in their study of violent crime because the definition change makes it harder to interpret changes in the number of reports.

Ames Grawert, a senior counsel at New York University’s Brennan Center for Justice, said the law and policy institute analyzes all major types of violent crime except rape because of that reason and the fact that rape is notoriously underreported.

“We don’t want to confuse increase in number of offences, which would of course be bad news, with an increase in reporting rates, which would be really good news,” Grawert said.

The Bureau of Justice Statistics estimated in its 2016 National Crime Victimization Survey that only 23 percent of rapes or sexual assaults are likely to be reported to law enforcement. The same survey showed 80 percent of motor vehicle thefts, 50 percent of household burglaries and 30 percent of thefts were likely to be reported in the same year.

Palumbo listed a variety of factors that may prevent victims from reporting.

“They may mistrust law enforcement,” Palumbo explained. “They may be asked by friends, family or loved ones that they’ve disclosed to not to make a report. But I think for most survivors of sexual assault it is the fear of not being believed or that their report will not be taken seriously.”

Palumbo said the #MeToo movement, which began to take hold on social media in October 2017, has addressed those fears by showing survivors of sexual violence that “they are not alone” and creating “a sense of solidarity and support” for them.

“Through that, we’ve seen public dialogue move forward in some pretty powerful ways, where people are talking about sexual harassment and assault as the widespread significant issues that research shows that they are,” Palumbo said.

Although Palumbo doesn’t necessarily believe the movement has encouraged more victims to rely on law enforcement, she does think it has helped survivors share their stories, even if they don’t officially report or pursue legal action.

Palumbo reminded that the FBI’s statistics only offer “one piece of the puzzle in terms of understanding the high prevalence of sexual assault in our country.”

Why Sexual Assault Memories Stick

View Original Article on TheNewYorkTimes

As a psychiatrist I know something about how memory works. Neuroscience research tells us that memories formed under the influence of intense emotion — such as the feelings that accompany a sexual assault — are indelible in the way that memories of a routine day are not.

That’s why it’s credible that Christine Blasey Ford, who has accused Judge Brett Kavanaugh, President Trump’s Supreme Court nominee, of sexually assaulting her when they were both teenagers, has a vivid recollection of the alleged long-ago event.

“I thought he might inadvertently kill me,” she told The Washington Post in a recent interview. “He was trying to attack me and remove my clothing.”

Judge Kavanaugh has vigorously denied the charges, leading to a public debate about whether Dr. Blasey’s story is true. Her lawyers say she wants the F.B.I. to investigate before she agrees to testify before the Senate. If and when she does testify, you can bet that Republican senators will try to undermine her explosive claim on the basis that the memory of an event that occurred 36 years ago must be unreliable because it happened in the distant past. If she does not testify, some of her critics will undoubtedly argue that the time that’s passed is reason to doubt her recollection. Nothing could be further from the truth.

Survivor Stories: A. B.

It wasn’t until I met Elic Anbar that I actually started to feel hopeful again. He was the first person to really listen to me and understand what I needed. Elic set me up with a therapist, who helped me while I worked with him on my civil case.

Civil Court vs. Criminal Court: The Basics

We often say that criminal court is designed to punish the perpetrator while civil court is focused on making the victim whole, but what does that mean exactly?

Civil court and criminal court operate very differently. In a criminal case, the perpetrator is being held accountable to the state (this is where you’ll see cases like New York v. John Smith) while in a civil case, the perpetrator is being held accountable to the survivor (this is where you’ll see cases like Jane Doe v. John Smith).

Burden of Proof
In a criminal case, the perpetrator is presumed innocent until proven guilty. The prosecutor (the state’s lawyer) must prove that the perpetrator is guilty of the crime beyond a reasonable doubt. This means that based on all the evidence and testimony, each of the 12 jurors needs to be 95% sure the perpetrator is guilty. The burden of proof in criminal trials is so high that proving a perpetrator guilty of sexual assault is very difficult. In order to avoid putting survivors through unnecessary pain, most prosecutors will not pursue a trial unless there is very strong corroborating evidence. If a perpetrator is found guilty in criminal court, the punishment is prison.

In a civil case, everyone comes in as equals. Nobody is presumed innocent or guilty. Both parties are represented by their own lawyers; the state is not involved. In a civil case, the survivor’s lawyer has to prove that the perpetrator is guilty by a preponderance of the evidence. This means that based on the evidence and testimony, a juror only has to be 51% sure the perpetrator is guilty. This makes it much more likely that a survivor will get justice. In New York, six out of six jurors need to agree to hold the perpetrator accountable; in California, nine out of twelve jurors need to agree. If the jury decides in favor of the survivor, the perpetrator is required to compensate the survivor.

Benefits of Civil Court
Because of the difficulty of proving sexual assault in a criminal case, though, many of these crimes are not prosecuted. Survivors of sexual assault can pursue justice through the criminal courts as well as the civil courts. This means that survivors can pursue civil court cases, even if they’ve had a criminal trial for the same sexual assault.

Costs of Civil Court
All trials cost money, and civil trials are no exception. Private law firms make money when they win cases against wealthy perpetrators. If perpetrators don’t have any financial worth, private law firm often won’t take on victims’ cases unless the victim self-funds the legal work.

The Survivors Justice Center’s Role
Because of the challenges of criminal cases and the financial burden of civil cases, many survivors don’t pursue legal justice. SJC doesn’t take economic status or financial means into account when it comes to choosing clients. We help survivors take legal action at no cost to them and hold their perpetrators accountable.

For more information about these and other opportunities to get involved, please use our contact form.