One morning in January 2019, a student from New York University woke up in her apartment near the school’s Manhattan campus to find a masked man standing above her in bed. He told her not to scream, she told the investigators, then caught her and raped her.
Two months later, the police compared fingerprints on an unopened protective cover in their room with a 22-year-old man named Tyler Lockett, who happened to be in prison for three robberies in Brooklyn.
What should have been a luck break for law enforcement, however, quickly turned into a disaster. Instead of being accused of rape, Mr Lockett was released from prison in July and the authorities said that he had attacked three other women two weeks before his arrest.
Investigators in the New York Police Department’s Victims Division made a series of errors that led to Mr. Lockett’s release, including prosecutors’ failure to suspect he was raped after finding his fingerprints, according to a number of law enforcement officials, the student’s mother and police document.
These errors highlighted a protracted problem identified in a strict city review in 2018: Some section investigators, who face a heavy burden of cases and lack of resources, discourage rape victims from cooperating and prompting cases to close them without a full investigation.
The audit was just one of several recent signs of a problem within the Special Victims Division. A detective was found to have investigated allegations of sexual assault of Hollywood producer Harvey Weinstein, leading to the dropping of a major charge.
The sergeant overseeing this detective is among many team leaders Those who are investigated for allegations of high-level misconduct With regard to crimes such as time theft and failure to hand over rape groups for treatment.
Since the audit, the police department has repaired the oath, and has long replaced its chief with deputy chief judge Judith R. Harrison, the former commander of Queens. The officials also added more detectives, expanded sensitivity-sensitive training, and made public initiatives for victims.
Commissioner Dermot Chia, when he was chief of detectives last year, denied investigating the rape case in which Mr. Luket was involved. Last summer, it is He blamed the Brooklyn prosecutors Regarding the failure, they indicated that they allowed Mr. Lockett to admit guilt and enter a transfer program rather than insisting on a prison sentence.
President Harrison said, in an interview, that the investigation was interrupted because the victim did not want to testify and officials did not want to pressure her.
However, some investigators, rape victims and their attorneys say that addressing the Lockett case indicates that the department’s main problems have not been resolved.
“They got a fingerprint and they responded and did nothing with it?” He said Jin Manning, A former sex crime prosecutor and director of the Equal Justice Project for Women. “It is part of the systemic problems that we have been complaining of for years. But this case shows the worst case scenario of what would happen when these systemic problems were allowed to continue.”
New York University mother of the student, who was with her daughter in police interrogation, said that William T. McLoughlin, a prominent sex crime investigator, questioned her daughter’s story of rape and spoke to her about cooperating with the investigation by telling her – falsely – that she would become a public identity if she did.
Her mother, speaking on the condition of anonymity, to protect her daughter’s identity, said: “All I got from her that night was“ You are guilty. ”“ I felt they were trying to establish her on her, just as they never believed her. ”
Investigator McLaughlin did not respond to several requests for an interview.
President Harrison said in an interview in November that she was unaware of the allegation that Detective McLaughlin had not encouraged the victim to move forward. She said investigators are learning to tell the victims that they will do their best to protect their privacy.
“What we do not want to do is return the victim forever,” she said.
A “terrifying” night
After the attack on January 12, 2019, the student immediately ran out of her apartment in the Eastern Village at around 3 am and called 911 from the Papaya Doge store.
Police officers first took her to the hospital for medical examinations, then to the Manhattan Special Victims Squad, where she was interviewed by Detective McLaughlin, an experienced investigator who joined the Special Victims Division in 2013.
She told the detective that her assailant had raped her first, then tied her hands with duct tape before setting out with a laptop, mobile phone, and debit card.
However, the detective seemed skeptical about her account, and asked her whether she knew her attacker or allowed him to enter her apartment, the mother of the victim said.
“She was chasing our daughter,” said the mother. “Are you sure you do not know him? Are you sure that you did not attend it and maybe you opened the door and did not remember? And things like that.”
When the victim’s parents asked about privacy, the investigator told them he could not prevent their daughter’s name from becoming public, saying, “You’ll get the news all over you,” the mother remembers. She said the detectives told them that the only way to avoid publicity is to “close the case.”
The young woman and her parents decided not to go ahead and continue to assist the investigators. That night, the victim’s mother was terrified. “We just wanted to get out of this area.”
The state civil rights law guarantees The rights of sexual assault victims to privacy and anonymity. The names of the victims are withheld in court documents, and most professional news organizations do not identify the victims without their permission. New York Law Shield Rape Defense attorneys are also prohibited from asking the victim about unrelated sexual activity.
The Harrison chief said investigators began looking at Mr. Lockett as a possible suspect of rape shortly after his arrest on robbery charges in Brooklyn. They believed that he followed the home of the Williamsburg rape victim, and investigators indicated that Mr. Luket had followed the young women at home at night from Williamsburg when he committed the robbery.
However, the police had no evidence of Mr. Luket being put inside the victim’s apartment until March, when laboratory technicians matched the fingerprints collected from the condom wrap with Mr. Luket, the Harrison chief said.
On March 14, Detective McLaughlin created what is known as the Investigative Card, and indicated that there was a “possible reason” for Mr. Lockett’s arrest, according to a copy of the form obtained by the New York Times.
The document, dubbed the “e-card” for a short time, served as an arrest warrant and appeared in Mr. Locket’s criminal record. The next day, officers in the Fugitive Orders Squad noted on the electronic card that Mr. Lockett was already being held in Brooklyn.
Law enforcement officials said that matching fingerprints should have led to several investigative steps being taken, but the Harrison chief said they had not been taken. No one visited the victim to persuade her to move forward. The police did not contact the Brooklyn prosecutors overseeing burglary cases. In addition, investigators did not ask correctional officials to inform them if Mr. Lockett was released from prison.
The Harrison Chief said that a police officer called the victim to ask if she knew Mr. Lockett and said she did not know.
On March 29, investigator McLaughlin reduced the state of rape on the e-card, and it disappeared from the rap paper, Mr. Lockett, which prosecutors are reviewing before deciding whether or not to file a statement of the defendant.
The President of Harrison said that she does not know why Detective McLaughlin changed the model, but that it may be due to a lack of sufficient evidence to arrest Mr. Lockett. She said that the condom wrapper containing Mr. Lockett’s fingerprint was not broken, and his DNA was not found in the victim’s body, nor on the used condom that police found in the apartment but did not believe it was used in the attack.
Harrison’s investigators said that the investigators also decided not to speak to Mr. Luket about rape while in prison, because the Public Prosecution Office in Manhattan advised them that Mr. Luket had the right to have a lawyer present.
Mr. Lockett and his defense attorney declined an interview with The Times. He was diagnosed with a psychiatric disorder, according to the authorities and his aunt, who said he moved to New York from Louisiana about three years ago to find work.
The case is closed
On June 14, Detective McLaughlin closed the rape case, calling it “C-4,” a blog meaning that all leads of the investigation were exhausted, Harrison’s chief said.
This meant that when the Brooklyn prosecutors looked into the rap paper Mr. Lockett during the solicitation negotiations a month later, the allegation of rape did not appear. As a result, prosecutor Oryn Yaniv, a spokesman for the Brooklyn County attorney’s office, said, prosecutors have offered Mr. Lockett the first-time non-prisoner plea bargain for non-violent violators.
Mr Lockett pleaded guilty on July 23 to robbery and charges, and was transferred to a program run by the Fortune Society, a non-profit organization that provides ex-prisoners health care, counseling and jobs. Mr. Lockett was released from the Rikers Island prison complex in the city on the same day, but he never came for advice.
Instead, the police said, Mr. Lockett attacked a 22-year-old woman inside her apartment on East 12 Street three days later, and then punched and robbed a woman in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, two days later.
He was finally arrested on August 2, shortly after the police announced that he had attempted to rape a 32-year-old woman in her apartment in Williamsburg.
Mr. Lockett was charged with sexual assault and robbery and attempted rape in the three attacks; he was admitted not guilty. The Brooklyn attorney’s office canceled his appeal.
Prosecutors said that Mr. Lockett identified himself in a video of observation from the victims’ buildings. Manhattan prosecutors said in court papers that he made incriminating statements, admitting that he had pushed the woman down East 12th Street, and apologizing to his victims. “I’m sorry for what I did to them,” according to court papers.
Mr. Lockett denied raping N.Y.U. Student, although he admitted he had stolen it, said Harrison’s boss.
The day before Mr. Luket was arrested, Shantai Vasquez, a special war victim investigator, went to the home of the rape victim’s family in New Jersey in an attempt to persuade her to press the case forward. Harrison’s chief said officials hope the victim will feel more comfortable with the detective, who was a woman.
The victim’s mother said: “The tone has really changed, and we feel as though we are on our side.”
However, the young woman eventually decided not to participate in the investigation, and the Manhattan County attorney said that she would not pursue the case without her testimony. Her mother said that her daughter is focused on completing her university studies and will also receive treatment to help her overcome rape and her treatment by the police.
Her mother said: “She just started her life, so it is not a good thing to keep going back like this.”
Victims of sexual violence can visit A certain hospital Or call New York City Alliance Against Sexual Assault For confidential assistance over the phone at 212-514-7233 or online at www.svfreenyc.org.
Shilag McNeill contributed to the research.