Sexual Assault Victims Say NYPD Fails to Handle Cases, 'I Identified My Own Rapist'

Sexual assault victims said they felt the New York City Police Department (NYPD) failed to properly handle their cases during testimony before the City Council on Monday.

The department's Special Victim's Division, which handles those cases, has previously been under fire. In 2018, a report from the Department of Investigation found that NYPD has "routinely" left it neglected and understaffed. On Monday, women came forward to explain how the division's alleged failures impacted them.

One of the victims, Leslie McFadden, said she was drugged and raped by a co-worker six years ago, but that her experience with the police department was "far worse," the New York Daily News reported.

She said the first question she was asked was if this was a case of sexual assault or "just a case of regret," the Daily News reported. Later, the same investigator allegedly convinced her to sign paperwork that would put her case on hold pending a drug test.

But after she signed the paperwork, the detective allegedly closed the investigation, prompting her to file a complaint that led to his 2020 transfer, according to the Daily News.

"The NYPD never held him accountable," she said. "I did."

Another woman, identified only as Meghan, said she was raped in a Brooklyn park on Halloween in 2015. After the attack, her alleged rapist asked for her phone number, which she gave to him so he would leave her alone, the Daily News reported.

He soon reached out to her, so she had the phone number to give to the police. But when she declined to participate in a controlled call with the suspect due to the trauma from the attack, police did not pursue the case, she said.

She quickly identified him on Facebook by using the phone number, "something the NYPD could not or would not do for me," she said, according to the Daily News.

"I never had a say in the decision to prosecute my rapist," she said, according to Gothamist. "It was decided with SVU detectives without me."

A third victim, identified as Christine, told the council that after she was drugged and raped, police did not look for video from the bar where she met her alleged rapist, the Daily News reported.

She said police did not test her hair samples for drugs and did not pay attention to other information including a blueprint of the suspect's apartment, which she compiled herself, the Daily News reported.

Councilwoman Adrienne Adams responded to the testimony, saying Christine was "in essence her own detective," Gothamist reported.

"How in heaven's name can we allow a survivor to pick up her own case, track her own case, offer her own evidence, spend her own money and this division comes back and slaps her in the face again," she said.

Deputy Inspector Michael King, who began running the Special Victims Division in August 2020, said that at least 12 investigators have been transferred and others have been disciplined over "bad behavior or bad case management." He said investigators are required to update their cases every five days and update victims every 21 days, the Daily News reported.

"Your testimony does not fall on deaf ears," he said. "Since I have been the commander here let me say I have spread the word throughout the division that laziness and callousness will not be accepted here."

He also acknowledged that 104 officers—about one-third of the department—still needed to go through specialized sensitivity and trauma-informed interviewing training, according to Gothamist.

Newsweek reached out to the NYPD for comment Tuesday morning but had not heard back by publication. This story will be updated with any response.

NYPD Police Car
Three women testified Monday that the NYPD failed to properly handle their sexual assault cases. Here, a police car is seen on Broadway in April 2016. Raymond Boyd/Getty Images