Despite continuing declines last month in most serious crimes, New York City has witnessed an increase in rape complaints, something police officials believe is due to awareness raised by sexual misconduct allegations against producer Harvey Weinstein and other celebrities.
During the monthly crime briefing at NYPD headquarters on Wednesday, the department’s chief of crime control strategies, Dermot Shea, noted that in February there were 122 reports of rape, compared with 88 in the same month in 2017, an increase of 38.6 percent.
For the year to date, the city has experienced about a 26 percent increase in rapes compared with the same period in 2017, police statistics showed.
Shea said that since last October, police have noted increases in rape complaints, something he believes followed the Weinstein allegations.
“I think it makes sense that the increase is partly due to that,” Shea said. “I think when we speak to advocates, and we have done as recently as this week, some view that as a good thing, that people are coming forward now and getting their voice and making reports.”
Shea has previously said many of the new rape reports actually stem from incidents from years ago. He said that 56 percent of the reports involve acquaintance rape allegations, 36 percent stem from domestic incidents, and the remainder involve stranger rapes. He said that only a small percentage of reports turn out to be unfounded.
During the briefing, Chief of Detectives Robert Boyce said the current investigation of sexual abuse complaints in the city against Weinstein was “going well” and witnesses may be brought before a Manhattan grand jury soon. Weinstein, through his attorneys and representatives, has denied allegations of sexual misconduct, insisting that any conduct was consensual.
In another serious crime category, Shea noted that in February, there were 3,108 reports of grand larceny compared with 3,048 in the same period for 2017, an increase of 2 percent.
Shea explained that some of the increase in grand larceny has been attributed to gang shoplifting in retail establishments, including some to feed drug habits.
Overall, serious crime has continued a downward trend that last year saw the city set record modern-era lows in homicides and shootings, NYPD Commissioner James O’Neill said.
There were eight fewer murders in February than last year, while shootings have decreased to 37 in the month, down slightly from 40 in the previous February.
Total serious crimes, such as homicide, burglary, auto theft and assault, so far in the city this year are down about 4.5 percent from 2017, according to police.