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 recently announced the formation of our Work-Related Sexual Violence Team, a first-of-its-kind effort to engage survivors, encourage reporting, and hold criminal abusers accountable. Our Team is staffed by 15 specially-trained Assistant District Attorneys and a social worker.
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.