Survivors Unite for Prospect Park Rape Survivor

Press Releases / January 17, 2018

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:

Women Rally Near Prospect Park’s Grand Army Plaza

Call on NYPD to Commit More Resources to Investigating Sexual Assault

January 15, 2018 – Brooklyn, NY – NOW-NYC and sexual assault survivors joined together on Martin Luther King Jr. Day to demand their civil rights for better treatment of rape victims; to call for the strengthening of investigative techniques and resources dedicated to sexual assault by the NYPD; and to stand up for a courageous rape survivor who waited more than two decades for justice.

“An apology isn’t enough, this predator went on to terrorize five more women. The reality is we haven’t made enough progress. We see firsthand how survivors still face a hostile police force and court system. Outdated attitudes about victims continue to persist in our criminal justice system and the media today,” said Sonia Ossorio, president of the National Organization for Women – New York.

Following her reports to the police, the Prospect Park survivor was called a liar by some police officials and a NY Daily News columnist who continued to publish columns questioning her credibility—even in the face of growing evidence supporting her story. Recently identified through DNA, the serial predator responsible for her attack is currently serving 75 years to life for four additional rapes and one attempted rape that happened after the Prospect Park rape.

Ossorio said, “It has been more than twenty years since this survivor was publicly maligned, and the genuine opportunity to catch her rapist before he went on to attack five more women was forever lost. Although the #MeToo shift is a significant step in the right direction, we need to lift our voices to demand change in our workplaces and in our justice system.”

Since New York State didn’t repeal its statute of limitations on rape until 2006, the Prospect Park survivor is unable to bring her own case against the perpetrator.

The group credited Detective Sarah Mathers, Detective Andrea Sorrentino, Sergeant Keri Thompson, and Deputy Chief Michael Osgood, as well as Chief of Detectives Robert Boyce and Commissioner James O’Neill for pushing the re-investigation of this case in support of the victim who, herself, made it clear that she was tremendously grateful to everyone who fought for its closure. But the group also noted that the victim, in a statement to the New York Times, called for reforms including better training of police, DNA testing in cold cases, and better treatment of sex crime victims; she emphasized that “stories of assault are still discounted; cases are not vigorously prosecuted.”

“The Prospect Park Survivor, after an unimaginable ordeal, did everything in her power to help apprehend her attacker and protect other women,” said Jane Manning, NOW-NYC’s director of advocacy. “That’s what courage looks like. We can all learn something from her determination to put a predator in prison where he belongs. The investigators who solved her case are heroes, but the foremost hero of this story is Jane Doe.”

NOW-NYC, along with its members and survivor-advocates called for additional restitution for this survivor and others like her. Specifically, the group called on the NYPD to:

·             Fully explain and investigate why some of its officers slandered this rape victim in the media, compounding her suffering and trauma to an unimaginable degree; to identify all those officers who did so; and to hold all of them to account for the irreparable harm they caused.

·             Increase the size of the Special Victims division, and require a higher level of training for SVU officers

·             Improve the training for frontline cops on how best to treat victims

·             Commit to utilizing updated technologies to close more cold cases like this one and ensure perpetrators are stopped before they attack again.

In addition, the group called for a public apology from the New York Daily News for allowing this victim to be slandered in its pages and a promise to the public of a commitment to cover stories about sexual assault with thorough investigations and respect for victims.

NOW-NYC advocates for the women and girls of New York, by defending reproductive rights, fighting economic inequality, and ending violence & discrimination against women.

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For inquiries contact Jean Bucaria: 212-627-9895 / jean@nownyc.org