Skip to content

ACAB: New York Times covers NYPD insensitivity towards assault survivors.

August 9, 2010

This article is a harrowing read and is potentially triggering. It is totally infuriating and horrible, but also worth reading.

Copied from:

Elizabeth Pressman, a victim of sexual assault, believes that the police mishandled her case.
Jennifer S. Altman for The New York Times

When she told the police that a co-worker had sexually assaulted her in her Brooklyn apartment, the response was not what she expected.

The officers warned that if they filed her report, her co-worker would be arrested. They asked, “Are you sure you want to do this?” recalled the woman, a 25-year-old waitress who asked to be identified only by her first name, Rebecca. She said she did, she recalled.

The case was initially classified as a simple assault, Rebecca said. She remembered how the detective assigned to the investigation had told her that “the Brooklyn courts are tough and they may just throw out my case.”

The court system never got the opportunity. The man she accused of attacking her was never arrested, she said, even though she had more evidence than many sexual assault victims do: a witness, medically documented injuries and condoms that the man wore.

In the last month or so, Rebecca has spoken to the detective and a sergeant with the Special Victims Division; both said they would continue to look into the case. But she said she learned from a Brooklyn prosecutor that the case had been closed.

“Part of me just wants to give up because, do I really want take on the N.Y.P.D.?” Rebecca said.

Rebecca was one of eight women interviewed by The New York Times who said the police had played down, misclassified or ignored their complaints of being sexually assaulted. The Police Department would not discuss their cases or comments.

Here are accounts of three of the other women.

Renee LeBlanc

Renee LeBlanc began her own investigation after she woke up naked in bed one morning in 2008, unable to remember much from the previous evening. She pieced together evidence that suggested that a man drugged her at a bar and tried to rape her in her apartment.

She went back to the bar. Bartenders described a man whom she did not know carrying her from the bar; they said they would save surveillance video from that night.

Ms. LeBlanc, 27, said she later learned that the cabdriver who drove them to her apartment had called the police because the man skipped the fare. Ms. LeBlanc said she also had several charges on her credit card that she believed the man had made, including one for a hotel in the city.

The officers who went to her apartment to take a report seemed skeptical and unsympathetic. She recalled that when she told them that she could not remember what happened, one responded, “Oh, you were drunk.”

The detective handling the case did not return numerous phone calls, she said. Months later, after not receiving any updates, she wrote a letter to Raymond W. Kelly, the police commissioner, asking for her case to be pursued. But she never received a response, she said.

“I was so frustrated by the police,” said Ms. LeBlanc, who has since moved to Boston. “They were the most frustrating thing about the entire situation.”


Shije, a 42-year-old singer and songwriter who asked that her last name be withheld, said that when she went to file a complaint in 2004 that her former boyfriend had raped her, the officer’s immediate response was to snicker — because she had waited about three months to report it and because she had been drinking on the night of the attack.

It did not seem to matter that she had gone to a hospital and met with a counselor shortly after the attack.

Shije said that in the days after the attack, her ex-boyfriend had sent flowers and an apologetic note, which she saved for the police.

After numerous follow-up phone calls to check on the status of her case, Shije said she was told that her report had been lost. Just last year, she said, her ex-boyfriend resurfaced, sending her apologetic text messages. She said she thought about returning to the police with this new evidence, but was hesitant because of her experience when she first reported the attack.

“They completely treated it like it’s something that never happened,” she said. “I’m worried that I’m going to have to fit in a nice comfortable support group and deal with accepting injustice the rest of my life.”

Elizabeth Pressman

Elizabeth Pressman recalled sitting in her bedroom last year drinking tea and chatting with an acquaintance of 20 years when he snapped. The man began choking her, trying to force her to perform oral sex and shoving his fist in her mouth, she said.

Somewhat in shock the following evening, Ms. Pressman, 51, said she let the man back into her apartment to pick up belongings he had left there. He attacked her a second time, she said. The next day, she went to a hospital and reported the attacks to the police.

Ms. Pressman, a news researcher who formerly worked for The Times, said the officers who interviewed her at the hospital had told her that because she had invited the man in, it would be a “he said, she said” situation and that she did not have a case.

The matter was referred to a detective, who interrogated her, Ms. Pressman said. After she described what had happened, Ms. Pressman said, the detective told her, “Sounds like rough sex gone awry.”

Manhattan prosecutors eventually determined that there was not enough evidence to proceed, Ms. Pressman said. (The prosecutor’s office declined to comment on her remarks.)

“If I were to speak to a woman about reporting a rape, I would say: ‘Don’t put yourself through it. Don’t put yourself through the humiliation and the abuse,’ ” said Ms. Pressman, whose father is the veteran television newsman Gabe Pressman. “It’s horrific what the cops do to you. It’s not worth it. Be ready to be raped a second time.”

No comments yet

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: