Rape and sexual assault are devastating crimes that change the life of the survivor forever. Whether the perpetrator is a stranger or, more commonly, an acquaintance, friend, or partner, we are committed to investigating and prosecuting these despicable acts. From supporting and advocating for survivors, to pursuing tough cases, we are dedicated to combatting sex crimes.
Our sex crimes prosecutors regularly conduct trainings to help New Yorkers better identify and report sexual assault through open lines of communication with law enforcement. In addition to presentations at local colleges and universities, we work with the New York Nightlife Association to train bouncers, managers, and bartenders. We also conduct public service campaigns, including a social media campaign to raise awareness of “upskirting,” the unlawful, voyeuristic act of photographing a person without her knowledge or permission. Our campaigns help raise awareness of the crime and its consequences, while informing the public of locations and methods frequently used by perpetrators, as well as what to do if this offense is observed.
Human trafficking is global epidemic happening not just in developing countries, but in our own backyard as well. Traffickers target the most vulnerable among us, frequently preying on homeless or disadvantaged young people who have suffered abuse, mental illness, and addiction.
To combat trafficking in New York, District Attorney Vance created our first-of-its kind Human Trafficking Response Unit. Our HTRU investigates and prosecutes sex and labor trafficking cases, and provides support for victims and their families in partnership with advocacy groups. Our specially-trained prosecutors work with our in-house social worker, financial analyst, and other professional staff to tackle every facet of trafficking operations. Our team employs long-term investigative techniques — including wiretaps and forensic analysis — as part of an evidence-based approach used to build these complex cases, in which victims are often afraid to testify or cooperate with the investigation.
Unique to our work is the use of sophisticated technology such as Memex, a suite of digital tools that analyze the vast world of online prostitution advertisements. Memex scours areas of the internet out of the reach of typical search engines and compiles ads into a database that allows us to draw connections between the photos and contact information contained within – helping identify new victims of trafficking and support existing cases.
We partnered with New York University and Cornell University, as well as technology experts and service providers, to conduct a human trafficking “hackathon.” Teams of students spent the weekend “coding for a cause” – developing solutions to a variety of hurdles facing investigators, ranging from organizing and analyzing vast amounts of records, to better predicting labor trafficking using publicly available data.
The prevalence of domestic violence is not just a criminal justice crisis – it is a national public health crisis that threatens our most vulnerable family members, particularly women and children. This crisis demands – and survivors deserve – a comprehensive, cross-sector battle plan that brings together law enforcement, government agencies, victim service providers, and the advocacy community. Our Office’s Domestic Violence Unit, housed in our Family Justice Center, contributes to the fight by prosecuting tough cases, raising awareness, advocating for legislative change, and building strong relationships with victim service organizations in New York City.
DA Vance created the Domestic Violence Initiative (“DVI”), bringing together experts and practitioners from multiple disciplines to set forth a comprehensive roadmap to eradicate domestic violence in New York City. In consultation with more than 50 stakeholders, DVI established working groups to make recommendations in areas including community- and hospital-based interventions; prosecutors, criminal court, and family court proceedings; abuser accountability and engagement; proposed legislation, and more.