On July 17, 2017, during my campaign for mayor, I issued a news release containing the following headline: “Mayor Turns a Blind Eye as Sexual Assaults Climb.” Mayor de Blasio and his aides denied any such increase and in fact, during our first debate, the mayor went so far as to attack me for employing what he called “a classic right-wing Republican scare tactic.”
Recent news proved the mayor unequivocally wrong. Yet he’s still in denial.
First, earlier this month, members of the City Council grilled police officials on a Department of Investigations report that called into question the NYPD’s reporting of sexual assault and the overall operations of the Special Victims Division.
The DOI report shows the number of cases referred to the Special Victims Division is up 65 percent since 2009, with 5,661 reported in 2017. Yet the process of reporting sexual assault was flawed. If the assault was described as “acquaintance” or “domestic” rape, it was investigated at the precinct level, never making it to the Special Victims Division.
The DOI report notes, “The failure to treat acquaintance and domestic rape as crimes on par with stranger rape is unacceptable in modern law enforcement.”
As a woman and an elected official, I wholeheartedly agree.
What makes this all the more shocking is the fact that Deputy Chief Michael Osgood, who heads up the division, repeatedly asked for increased staff and resources during de Blasio’s first term — an obvious request when you consider the caseload in 2017 was 62 cases per investigator.
At last, we’re finally hearing outrage from groups like the National Organization for Women, which remained silent last summer when I originally raised the issue.
Bill de Blasio owes an apology to the women of New York City and especially to those who have suffered a sexual assault. The benign neglect his administration has displayed on this issue has resulted in consequences that are very real for those who have been assaulted by repeat offenders; individuals who should be behind bars.
Equally troubling were the dismissive and untruthful responses given by de Blasio, his administration and his campaign to myself and City Hall reporters when I brought this issue up last year.
Whether it concerns sexual-assault statistics, meetings with corrupt donors or the impact of bundled contributions from fat-cat lobbyists, de Blasio seems to have a knack for twisting the truth or forgetting the details.
That’s what he did again Wednesday, when The Post asked him about the 471 sexual-harassment complaints filed by Department of Education employees between 2013 and 2017, only 1.5 percent of which were substantiated by the city.
“It is a known fact that unfortunately there’s been a bit of a hyper-complaint dynamic sometimes for the wrong reasons,” de Blasio asserted. “So I think that has inflated their numbers. We need to address that cultural reality within the DOE.”
He added that the city takes “sincere reporting” seriously — but I guess to de Blasio, many women’s claims of sexual harassment aren’t very serious.
Over the course of my legislative career and continuing to this day I have had numerous disagreements with the City Council. Thankfully, under the leadership of Speaker Corey Johnson, the council is finally challenging de Blasio and his administration on a number of issues. This will be good for the truth and good for the taxpayers.
It’s time the City Council started asking some tough questions — and it’s time Mayor de Blasio started giving some straight answers.
Nicole Malliotakis represents portions of Brooklyn and Staten Island in the New York state Assembly and was the Republican nominee for mayor in 2017.