#MeToo Movement May Be Playing Role As Reported Assaults Increase By 22 Percent In September Alone; Mayor Urges Victims To Speak Up

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — There has been a dramatic rise in rape cases every month for the past year, and that has forced the NYPD to revamp its Special Victims Unit, adding extra personnel to help bring assailants to justice.

Fallout from the #MeToo movement and headline-grabbing stories about Hollywood mogul Harvey Weinstein and a long list of movie and TV stars have increased the workload for the NYPD unit tasked with investigating rapes and sexual assaults, CBS2’s Marcia Kramer reported.

“Our rape numbers, yes, they are trending up,” NYPD Chief of Crime Strategies Lori Pollock said Wednesday.

Rapes are up 22 percent in the month of September alone and of the 144 complaints, 35, or 24 percent, were for past assaults, Kramer reported.

And in a town described as the “safest big city in America,” rapes have increased every month for a year.

They are up 28 percent since January. Of the 1,348 rape complaints, 54 percent were committed by acquaintances, 39 percent by family members and 7 percent by strangers.

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The development has forced the NYPD to dramatically expand its Special Victims Unit, adding some three dozen detectives and analysts and supervisors to handle the increased caseload.

“Every rape complaint that comes to us is investigated and they’re investigated thoroughly,” NYPD Chief of Detectives Dermot Shea said. “We have a victim-centric model that we’ve really been pushing.”

Police officials said, surprisingly, not all of those coming forward want their assailants to be punished.

“Many people do opt to step out of the investigation,” Shea said. “For many, it’s they want to report it. They want to get it off their chest. But sometimes a prosecution is not what’s sought.”

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Mayor Bill de Blasio is urging people to come forward, saying it’s good that they do.

“Acknowledging the horrible number of sexual assaults against women that have been tragically inappropriately the norm for too long in this country must stop,” de Blasio said.

The mayor said it doesn’t matter if the incident is from the past. The NYPD will investigate each case and help bring justice.

And while most crimes are down, murders are up 6 percent so far this year, and there has been a slight uptick if car thefts, as well.