Captain Peter Rose, who leads the 94th Precinct, reported that there was a 62 percent jump in sexual attacks last year.
But he later told an online publication that most of those were “acquaintance rape” cases, so they weren’t “too worried” about it because they weren’t “total-abomination rapes where strangers are being dragged off the streets.”
His comments quickly circulated on social media, drawing strong criticisms from both residents and elected officials.
“I deeply regret the statements I made last week about rape. I failed to communicate accurately how I respond to reports of rape, and the actions the Department as a whole takes,” Rose said in a statement. “My comments were not meant to minimize the seriousness of sexual assault.”
Rose clarified that every rape, whether it’s done by a stranger or a familiar person, is fully investigated by the NYPD.
“We make no distinction in our response,” he said. “My comments suggested otherwise and for that I apologize.”
Last week, Eric Phillips, Mayor Bill de Blasio’s press secretary, released a statement online that said Rose’s comments do not represent the views of the mayor, the administration, or the NYPD.
“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,” Phillips said. “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 focus for the survivor and safety of our neighborhoods.”
Public Advocate Letitia James also responded, urging the NYPD to ensure that all officers are “properly trained” on how to handle sex crimes and to engage with victims. She said she was “extremely disturbed” by Rose’s comments that “stranger rapes are the troubling ones.”
“Rape is a heinous and brutal crime that should be treated as such, regardless of whether the perpetrator is a stranger or known by the victim,” James said. “Too often, victims of rape and sexual crimes do not come forward because of fear that their claims won’t be taken seriously, and these comments perpetuate those concerns.”
The 94th Precinct covers north Brooklyn, including Greenpoint and parts of Williamsburg. The area’s elected officials sent out a joint statement condemning Rose’s remarks.
“Every act of sexual assault or rape is a serious crime and must be investigated fully and with due respect,” the statement read. “We continue to have every expectations that whenever a sexual assault or rape occurs, the NYPD, and especially the Special Victims Unit, will interact with the survivors professionally and in a courteous manner, and that the NYPD will conduct a serious and thorough investigation regardless of whether the survivor knew the perpetrator.”
The statement was signed off by Council members Stephen Levin and Antonio Reynoso, Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney, Assemblyman Joseph Lentol and state senators Martin Dilan and Daniel Squadron.
The officials said they were “dismayed” by the comments, regardless of the captain's intentions.
“It is essential that every member of the NYPD, from the commissioner to the recruit, be trained and retrained regularly to recognize the signs of rape and sexual assault,” the statement continued. “The NYPD must also commit to a comprehensive program that gives them the tools to more effectively address sexual assault and rape and understand the trauma the survivor experiences.”
In an op-ed in the Daily News, Police Commissioner James O’Neill called Rose’s comments “insensitive.” His words “left the misleading and inaccurate impression that the NYPD treats these types of cases differently,” he said.
O’Neill reiterated the NYPD’s policy about investigating rapes and further explained what they’ve done to encourage reporting, such as collaborating with victim advocates and prosecutors and conducting more street outreach.
“Our goals are simple” O’Neill wrote. “We want to keep victims safe, hold offenders accountable for their actions, and prevent further crime.”