Statement of Sonia Ossorio, President of the National Organization for Women – New York City on police solving 1994 Prospect Park rape case that columnist called a “hoax”
January 10, 2018
The solving of the 1994 Prospect Park rape case deserves recognition for the perseverance and tenacity of the NYPD, who finally cracked the case utilizing new DNA testing technologies not available when the crime was committed. We applaud the work of Police Commissioner James O’Neill, Chief of Detectives Robert Boyce, Deputy Chief Michael Osgood, and the cold-case detectives who cracked this case for the dogged investigation that, more than two decades after the crime, finally identified the serial predator who perpetrated this assault. The Medical Examiner’s Office also deserves great credit, for the painstaking and cutting-edge work that identified the perpetrator.
But there is another side of this story – and that is what happened in the immediate aftermath of the crime. Some police officials slandered this victim by telling news columnist Mike McAlary that they did not believe her story, and the New York Daily Newspublished his columns, failing to stop McAlary’s depraved and unrelenting attacks on a rape victim even in the face of growing evidence that supported her claims. Both must take responsibility now for the unnecessary and unfathomable pain and suffering they caused this woman. The victim has asked for one simple thing – an apology from the NYPD and the New York Daily News for their egregious mishandling of her story, actions that re-traumatized her greatly. We urge both institutions to issue public apologies and take responsibility for their past mistakes now.
Specifically, we call 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. Similarly, the New York Daily News owes this victim a long-delayed apology for allowing her to be slandered in its pages and a promise to the public of a renewed commitment to covering stories about sexual assault with thorough investigations and respect for victims.
Most of all, the brave woman who survived this horrific assault deserves the City’s thanks. She spoke the truth then and now, at great personal cost. She did everything in her power to help the police catch a dangerous predator in the hopes of protecting other women. We honor her courage and integrity.
More than two decades later, the news media and the criminal justice system often still blame the victim: this must change. The force of survivors now raising their voices publicly is a call to action. Until every survivor has an opportunity for justice, the system remains broken.
NOW-NYC advocates for the women and girls of New York, by defending reproductive rights, fighting economic inequality, and ending violence and discrimination against women.