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#MeToo cited as one reason rape reports increased 22% in New York in 2018

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Reports of rape in New York were up 22% in 2018, in part because the #MeToo movement inspired victims to come forward and tell their stories, Mayor Bill de Blasio said on Thursday.

De Blasio, who was speaking at the city’s monthly crime statistics meeting, agreed with New York Police Department officials who cited community outreach efforts as a way to explain the peak.

In all, there were 1,795 reports of rape in the city for 2018, up by 328 incidents, according to the NYPD. But a big chunk of that was victims coming forward about their attacks that happened years earlier.

“The advocates and the NYPD believe the same thing based on the information they have. That a historic underreporting is finally being addressed,” de Blasio said. “I think the #MeToo movement is a part of it. And a number of other things are.”

Of the rapes that were reported in 2018, 401 incidents happened in previous years, officials said. And that figure is up from 2017, when there were 250 reports of rape that happened years earlier.

“Our public awareness program for people to come forward with sexual assault complaints, I think that’s a big part of why that number continues to rise,” said NYPD Commissioner James O’Neill.

The NYPD launched a campaign in April 2018 to urge sexual assault victims to come forward. That campaign, along with the eventual shake-up of the NYPD Special Victims Division in November, happened while the #MeToo movement was already in full swing.

Those NYPD changes, however, were also preceded by a report filed by the city’s inspector general in March that said the division was understaffed and that rapes by strangers were prioritized by investigators over “acquaintance and domestic rape.”

During the crime statistics briefing, officials also said 329 rapes were reported by victims walking in to their local precinct and talking to an officer.

“To me that’s a trust issue,” said Lori Pollock, NYPD chief of Crime Control Strategies. “It means we’re building trust that people will walk into a precinct and speak to maybe the cop on the phone, maybe the desk officer and explain to them what happened to them.”

Despite an overall drop in crime, including murders and robberies, hate crimes also rose in the city.

There were 361 hate crime incidents in the city in 2018, a rise of 7% from the year before, officials said. More than half the incidents that were reported were said to be anti-Semitic, although none was as serious as an October shooting in Pittsburgh at the Tree of Life Synagogue that led to hate crime charges against a man accused of killing 11 congregants.

NYPD Chief of Detectives Dermot Shea said the incidents included harassment in the form of leaflets or threats of violence, and vandalism, such as the case of James Polite, 26, who was charged in November and accused of scrawling anti-Semitic language on a temple and setting fires at other locations.

“We see sometimes with hate crimes the same individuals doing this type of activity over and over,” Shea said. “We have three or four individuals that would account for the entire increase, whether it’s drawing swastikas or things of that nature.”

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