His serious misjudgment, Mr. Miller said, “re-victimized a person who was already the victim of a terrible crime.”
He went on: “I sincerely apologize to her for that. As a police official — even one whose job was to deal with the press — I had a higher obligation to the citizens we serve, especially the witnesses to and victims of crime. While I learned that lesson 24 years ago, I most regret that it was at the expense of one of those who had the courage to come forward.”
Mr. Garbus said his client winced at some of Mr. Miller’s words. Mr. Miller was not just any police official, but the one assigned to speak with reporters, so she would have expected more, he said.
Still, an apology from Mr. Miller was something the woman expressed wanting earlier on Friday — hours before his apology came — when Mr. Garbus shared a statement from her with The New York Times.
In it, she traces the arc of her experiences forward to the current #MeToo phenomenon, warning that #MeToo is not a moment or a movement but “an ongoing reality” for women.
“To see in print that police sources had called me a liar had a silencing effect on me, to say the least,” she wrote. “I paid a terrible, terrible price for my #MeToo.”
She also wrote of the humiliation of her encounter with the first officers to respond to her attack, on April 26, 1994. They employed racial stereotypes, she said, then turned on her when she protested.
“Immediately after I was raped, the policemen who responded drove me around the park, stopping and questioning black men who looked nothing like the description I had given them,” she wrote. “When I told them that as a black woman that made me uncomfortable, that it made me feel unsafe, they were visibly angry.”
In a column that appeared two days after the attack, the Daily News writer, Mike McAlary, cited questions raised by police investigators about her account, under a headline: “Rape Hoax the Real Crime.” Citing unnamed police sources, Mr. McAlary, who died of cancer in 1998, said investigators believed the woman had fabricated the story to promote a gay and lesbian rally. “The woman, who will probably end up being arrested herself, invented the crime, they said, to promote her rally,” Mr. McAlary wrote.
Though she was not named in Mr. McAlary’s columns in 1994, and has maintained her anonymity since, the public disclosures about her being an activist added to her agony over being doubted since she figured it might help people surmise her identity.
Mr. Miller, in his statement on Friday, did not address Mr. McAlary. In a deposition he gave in a resulting libel case, that was dismissed in 1997, Mr. Miller said he told reporters at an off-the-record briefing a day after the attack that detectives had doubts about the woman’s account, but said Mr. McAlary had obtained some information about the doubts of detectives from another source too.
After semen was found on the woman’s jogging shorts, Mr. McAlary wrote that a police official had deemed the laboratory wrong. It turned out, however, that top police officials involved in the case had misunderstood the technical language of the lab report.
In her statement, the woman also said The Daily News owed her an apology. An editorial in the newspaper on Thursday said there were lessons in the episode for law enforcement and journalism. To that, Mr. Garbus said, “The Daily News non-apology was disgraceful.”
In her statement, the woman thanked two officers: Detective Andrea Sorrentino, “who worked tirelessly” on the case in 1994, and Detective Sarah Mathers “who solved it 23 years later.”
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