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The number of rapes reported across the city skyrocketed over the past three weeks — just as nicer weather arrived and capacity was expanded at bars and restaurants.
Sexual assaults surged 322 percent to 38 during the week of March 29-April 4 from the 9 reported the same period last year, NYPD data show.
The week prior, March 22-28, saw 36 sex attacks — 125 percent more than the 16 reported the same week in 2020 as pandemic lockdowns began.
Sexual assaults soared 94 percent to 33 from 17 for the week of March 15-21, NYPD stats show.
“I don’t think this is a coincidence. People are out going to bars and restaurants again at 50 percent capacity,” says Joseph Giacalone, a retired NYPD sergeant who teaches at John Jay College of Criminal Justice. “As New Yorkers get vaccinated and start venturing out to the bar and nightclub scene, just beware of your surroundings and who you hang out with. Don’t let your guard down, don’t drink to excess, and never leave a friend behind.”
Of the 174 rapes reported in the Big Apple from Jan. 1 through April 4, the NYPD data show 14 were committed by strangers and 160 via “acquaintances,” which includes individuals who may have just met.
New York City expanded indoor dining capacity to 50 percent on March 19. Watering holes are still not allowed to serve over the bar, but patrons drink via table service when they order food.
The NYPD could not say if the disturbing numbers are linked to the relaxing of COVID-19 restrictions.
“We remain in unprecedented times amid the continuing strains of COVID-19. It’s always preferable to view crime statistics over a long period, to determine trends particularly during this ongoing pandemic,” an NYPD spokeswoman said, adding, “Year-to-date, rape complaints have declined by 13 percent.
“However, we acknowledge that rape is an underreported crime and we encourage victims and survivors to always please come forward.”
Of the 107 rapes reported from March 15-April 4 across the Big Apple, 28 occurred in Brooklyn and Manhattan, respectively, followed by 27 in Queens and 24 in the Bronx.
Queens saw 14 rapes in the week of March 29-April 4, a period with no rapes last year.
Midtown South — a precinct that covers many hotels, Times Square, and transit hubs like Penn Station — saw 10 rapes reported the week of March 22-28 — a 400 percent increase from the two reported there last year during the same period.
In the early-morning hours of March 27, a man attacked a 24-year-old woman as she entered her apartment building in Flatbush, near Beverly Road and Rogers Avenue. He physically and sexually assaulted the woman on the stairs but ran off when she began to yell, police said.
“In the past month we have seen a steady increase in the number of victims going to hospitals for sexual assault care,” said Christopher Bromson, executive director of the Crime Victims Treatment Center in Manhattan, which provides free services to survivors of violence and sexual assault.”
He added, “As vaccinations increase and the weather gets nicer, I think we’re all feeling the excitement of getting back out. So many of us are so understandably yearning for the contact that we’ve missed over the past year that we may not be as self-protective as we normally would. And while no one should have to be self-protective to avoid being sexually assaulted, it remains a vulnerability that can be exploited by someone looking to cause harm.”
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