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Why are prosecutors dismissing sexual assault cases?


Weather: Rather cloudy, with a little sunshine and a shower in the afternoon. High in the 80s.

Parking on the alternative side: Suspended until Wednesday for Eid al-Adha.


The #MeToo movement has raised hopes that those who have committed sexual assault will be held accountable more often. But after reviewing years of crime and prosecution data, and talking to women who have reported being assaulted, my colleague Jan Ransom found that little had changed in the way New York’s criminal justice system had changed. York deals with rape charges.

This may be due in part to the fact that sexual assault prosecutions present inherent challenges, especially when the abuser is not a stranger and alcohol is involved. Some experts believe prosecutors are still unwilling to meet these challenges.

“At the end of the day, if the perception is that the lawyers in our office are short or disrespectful to victims, that’s unacceptable,” said Cyrus R. Vance Jr., the Manhattan district attorney. “As an office, we have to deal with it and educate our assistants on how to improve their interactions with survivors and victims. “

[Prosecutors in New York City struggle to prove sexual assault accusations.]

Most New York City prosecutors’ offices dismissed a greater share of sex crimes cases in 2019, the last year for which reliable data is available, than they did for roughly a decade. earlier. This is particularly the case in Manhattan, where prosecutors dropped 49% of sexual assault cases in 2019 – an increase from 37% in 2017, according to state data.

The data excludes most sexual crimes against children and some non-violent offenses such as stalking.

The number of rape reports to police jumped about 20% from 2017 to 2019 following the 2015 lawsuits against Harvey Weinstein, the former Hollywood producer who was convicted last year of rape and sexual assault.

Conviction rates for sexual assault cases are generally much lower than for other violent crimes: 44% of those cases resulted in a conviction in Manhattan in 2019, compared to 79% of first degree murder cases.

Audrey Moore, Mr Vance’s first deputy prosecutor, said the office has sought to better train prosecutors on the effects of trauma on victims and how to approach cases of alcohol-facilitated rape.

The issue has also become a focal point in the race to succeed Mr. Vance, who is not running for re-election.

Alvin Bragg, the former federal prosecutor who won the Democratic primary in June, has vowed to revamp the sex crimes office. Mr. Bragg is widely favored to win the November general election.

He said he planned to talk to survivors and “restart” the sex crimes office “from scratch.” He also said he wanted to assess why some cases are dismissed and that the likelihood of a conviction should not be a determining factor in cases where the office prosecutes.


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Jacob Bernstein of The Times writes:

One of the luckiest things that can happen to a restaurant is that it stays open long enough to become a place frequented by famous people.

This is part of what made the reopening in March of Balthazar, a pillar of SoHo since the height of the dot-com bubble, unusual. Jay-Z and Beyoncé came to dinner. Nancy Pelosi came to have breakfast. Customers argued at their tables, went to the bathroom together.

“People are excited!” said Jonathan Wynne, the bartender.

But all of those shows were overshadowed by the one restaurant owner Keith McNally, 69, features daily on Instagram, where instead of running his life artistically, he reveled in the mess.

After a debilitating stroke in 2017, it was impossible for Mr. McNally to speak normally; after Alina McNally, his wife of over 15 years, handed him divorce papers the following year, he avoided the humiliation of being a declining straight white goliath by dragging him over everyone on its passage. A Howard Beale for the Instagram age, he takes it out here on behalf of boomers who believe in a woman’s right to a safe abortion and oppose police brutality, but are too afraid to admit to how enraged they are by a generation of awakened absolutist whiners.

One minute, he’s uploading some sumptuous seashell snapshots. The next one, he’s crazy as hell and he won’t take it anymore.

Mr. McNally, perhaps surprising to some, is a “strong Democrat”.

He mocked Donald Trump and wrote with admiration about Monica Lewinsky, who had dined in Balthazar in June.

“Although I hate Cancel Culture, I don’t intentionally offend people,” he said via email, his chosen mode of communication because of his difficulty speaking. “But as the great Thomas Paine once said, ‘He who dares not offend cannot be honest.'”

It’s Monday, ring the bell.


Dear Diary:

That was a few years ago, and we had four front row seats on the central balcony for a performance of “Othello” at the Metropolitan Opera. A young couple who were new to opera accepted an invitation to join us.

During the cab ride from the restaurant where we dined to Lincoln Center, we unraveled the intrigue for our companions. With four passengers in the cabin, I sat in the front seat and recounted in the back.

The cab’s arrival at the Met coincided with my account of Iago’s plot regarding the hidden handkerchief. I tried to hand the price over to the driver as we got ready to go out. He stopped me.

“No one is going to leave until I hear the end,” he said.

Vern Schramm

Illustrated by Agnès Lee. Read more about the metropolitan agenda here.


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