We're a hawk on the issues.

Minimizing Rape: New Report Claims Sex Crimes in New Orleans are Going Uninvestigated

New Orleans is safe, or at least it looks that way on paper. A new audit just released by New Orleans own inspector general Ed Quatrevaux, found that behind the stellar stats, something is amiss, especially when it comes to rape cases.

According to official reports, New Orleans is one of the safest cities in the United States for women, with rape rates 43 percent lower than other top cities nationwide despite an uptick of rape reports in recent years.

The inspector’s audit notes that these impressive stats, though,  have less with law enforcement doing their job and more to do with a loophole in the system that often classifies sex crimes a’miscellaneous incidents’ rather than immediately labeling them as a potential rape.

This more minor classification results in sex crimes often being overlooked in the system or not investigated at all. According to the inspector’s  audit, the practice “effectively shut down investigations for a significant proportion of possible sex crimes.”

The result was less investigated rape claims and fewer rape victims being taken seriously by police when they reported assaults,  something NOPD Superintendent Ronal Serpas denies.

“We do not agree that the NOPD misclassified sexual assault crimes and independent experts substantially validated our data,” he said, defending the department he took over in 2010.

Former federal prosecutor Tania Tetlow, however, said that under-reporting rape and trying to disprove sexual assault claims has long been part of the police culture in New Orleans.

“Before the new administration, rape was effectively decriminalized in the city,” Tetlow stressed. “There was so little investigation going on, there was so much labeling everything miscellaneous, and not investigating it. I think what this report shows is we still have a long way to go.”

She also said that police need to change their attitudes about how they investigate rape claims.

“There was a culture where detectives tried to disprove rapes, where somehow what they were supposed to do was make the statistic go away.”

Tetlow did say that under new leadership, rape victims are finally being taken a little more serious. It is “changing but all to gradually,” the former federal prosecutor said of the NOPD’s policy towards rape and its victims.

 

Photo Credit:

About the author

Tamar is a New York based freelance writer and photographer whose work has appeared in over 15 publications. You can catch her work regularly on Issue Hawk, Latest, Jspace, and MediaGlobal.