June 19, 2021

Rape in New York

If you happened to miss this small op-ed in the NY Times yesterday, I am going to paste it here. It was tucked away on a page that I often overlook. The title caught my attention. So highly fucked up and more than mildly disturbing.

June 18, 2021
Op-Ed Contributor
New York's Crime Against Women
By SONIA OSSORIO

IN the fall of 1992, a woman was in her apartment on West 16th Street in New York City when her boyfriend walked in with a gun pointed at him. The gunman had pistol-whipped him in the vestibule and taken his keys.

Once in the apartment, he forced the woman to go around collecting money and jewelry. Forcing her boyfriend to watch, the gunman then raped her twice.

Today the Manhattan district attorney's office knows the attacker's identity. After the Manhattan assault, he raped a woman in Queens and was convicted of a felony. Because of that, his DNA was entered in the databank and a match was made to the Chelsea attack.

But the rapist is now out on the streets, having already served his jail time for the Queens conviction. He will never spend a day in prison for the brutal Chelsea attack.

Why? Because in New York, there is a statute of limitations on rape. If a rapist is not indicted within five years, he cannot be prosecuted, no matter how overwhelming the proof of guilt.

If you're surprised to hear this, you're not alone. Many people have no idea that there is a statute of limitations on rape in our state. New York's time-limitation on rape prosecution is one of the shortest in the nation; only Florida, North Dakota and Utah have shorter time limits. Almost half of all states have eliminated any statute of limitations for rape in the first degree, or forcible rape or sex with a child 12 years old or younger or a person who is physically helpless. Nearly a dozen of these states have no statute of limitations for any rape.

The good news is that both the State Assembly and the Senate have passed legislation that would eliminate the five-year limit. The bad news is that now the details of the two bills need to be hashed out in conference.

Sheldon Silver, the Assembly speaker, wants to include a provision in the bill that would revoke not just the five-year limit on prosecution, but also the time restraint for civil lawsuits. The Senate, which tends to be averse to any extension of statute for tort claims, is unlikely to agree to that provision. And with Albany scheduled to recess this week, little time remains for them to act.

New Yorkers should be outraged by this inability to compromise. This is a calamity for the victims of the 350 rapists who have been identified by DNA but cannot be prosecuted because of the statute of limitations.

There's no question that New York is lagging when it comes to recognizing the need for stronger rape laws. According to the United States Department of Justice, a woman is raped in the United States every 2.5 minutes. Changing this outdated law is a matter of public safety.

In New York State, rape is one of the few categories of crime that have not seen a significant drop. From 1994 to 2004, murder declined 56 percent and robbery dropped 61 percent, but rape decreased only 23 percent. And in some areas, rape is on the rise. For instance, the precinct covering the Lower East Side of Manhattan has seen a 40 percent increase in rapes from 2001 to 2005, according to the New York Police Department.

In New York, murder, first-degree arson, first-degree kidnapping and first- and second-degree drug sale and possession have no statute of limitations, so why does first-degree rape? Rape is certainly as serious a crime as arson and kidnapping and arguably more serious than selling or possessing drugs. Indeed, it is a crime that can permanently devastate the life of the victim.

Before the Senate and the Assembly adjourn on Thursday, they need to set aside their differences and come to an agreement. While being able to sue can help some rape survivors, civil lawsuits do not keep rapists off the streets.

The fight over civil lawsuits is not worth risking the death of this bill, which will make New York a safer place for women rather than the best place in the Northeast for sexual predators to call home. The idea of someone getting away with rape out there finding more victims is simply not acceptable.

Sonia Ossorio is the president of New York City chapter of the National Organization for Women.

I wanted to write a nice, light, funny blog about how much sex I'm having these days (a lot) but instead, I read this and feel the need to share a much more important and disgusting issue (although I'm sure my family who reads this blog would find details about my sex life mildly disgusting as well), but regardless, that's not the point today. Yes, I know this is a New York thing, and yes, it seems like New York is more than slightly behind its time when it comes to rape, but in what should be one of the most progressive cities in the world, this is absolutely outrageous.

Let's reiterate..."In New York, murder, first-degree arson, first-degree kidnapping and first- and second-degree drug sale and possession have no statute of limitations, so why does first-degree rape?" I kind of think, now call me crazy here, that rape is a bit more violent and unplanned than say, buying or selling drugs. People have a choice when it comes to using or dealing. Most women, and men, because yes, men can get raped, don't have a choice in the matter when it comes to being violently penetrated or assaulted. So why is drug dealing and drug using getting more "time" so to speak, then rape? I just don't get this. A man can't get convicted of rape, because five years have passed, so now we must wipe the slate clean. What the fuck is wrong with this picture...Bueller, Bueller, anybody out there?????

It just makes me think about equality. And I say this because most of the victims of rape are women. Is the violation of a woman's body less important after five years? If more men than women got raped, would things already be different? And why does a perpetrator have to go out and rape again in order to be recognized by the courts? This makes me wish all rapists were convicted drug dealers. At least then they could be held accountable for their actions more than five years after the fact. But if it's just rape it doesn't count.

Womens voices and feelings count. Always. After five years the memories of a rape don't just suddenly go bye bye. So why should a rapist get away with forced sexual violence after such a short period of time? It takes the government more than five years to find a lot of other criminals, so why, in New York is rape the exception?

Somebody please explain this to me. I just can't figure this one out. Anybody out there stupid enough to understand? Please. Help.

Posted by jamye at June 19, 2021 09:31 PM