“For too many years, survivors of rape and sexual assault have come forward to report these crimes, only to encounter apathy and incompetence from investigators who should be setting an example for the world,” said Ms. Manning. “For the Justice Department to investigate the N.Y.P.D. for failing rape victims says that the Justice Department gets it.”
The announcement on Thursday had been months in the making. Last fall, federal prosecutors spent weeks interviewing more than a dozen victims and their advocates about their experiences with the division.
Michael Osgood, who led the Special Victims Division for eight years, said the federal investigation is an indictment of Mayor Bill de Blasio and the senior Police Department leaders who worked under him. Last year, Mr. Osgood, who was removed in 2018, sued the administration; he and many advocates believe he was forced out for cooperating with the Department of Investigation audit. The report relied on dozens of his memos to senior officials.
The mayor and his subordinates “for years were fully informed of the root causes of the Special Victims system failures and did very little to fix them, and in fact they made it worse,” Mr. Osgood said. “They disgraced themselves and brought shame on a venerable department. Now there is hope.”
Mr. de Blasio did not immediately return a call seeking comment.
Mayor Eric Adams said at a news conference Thursday that he welcomed the latest review. “There is no higher level of priority for us than to ensure that victims of sexual assault receive the right treatment, investigation and resolution,” he said.
While many welcomed the federal investigation in New York, some victims felt conflicted.
Alison Turkos had reported to police that she was kidnapped, held at gunpoint and raped in October 2017 by a Lyft driver and two other men. Federal investigators took over the case after her receipt showed she had been taken across state lines. The announcement Thursday came less than a day after she learned that they would not bring charges.
“There’s so many of us, myself included, who won’t even get a semblance of justice or accountability because the legal system failed us miserably, because we did what we’re supposed to do,” she said, describing how she had eagerly helped investigators. “It feels like a slap in the face.”
Glenn Thrush, Emma Fitzsimmons and Benjamin Weiser contributed reporting.