Letters between city and state officials concerning violence in New York City’s shelter system, provided to the New York Times, indicate that the simmering feud between Governor Andrew Cuomo and Mayor Bill de Blasio may have boiled over once again.
On Friday, after conducting a surprise inspection of the Bellevue Men’s Shelter on East 30th Street, state officials demanded that the city investigate an alleged “gang rape,” in which a resident was “hog-tied” and raped “a few weeks ago.” From the New York Post:
“The Bellevue security officer stated that the resident was found, still bound, by a security guard,” state homeless-services chief Samuel Roberts said in a letter to city Human Resources Commissioner Steven Banks. Roberts complained the state was not informed of the alleged crime and that an incident report wasn’t filed.
He directed the NYPD and State Police to investigate the alleged crime and why it wasn’t reported.
But in a testy response, Banks suggested the report was erroneous.
“We could not have reported this incident to you since there is no evidence it occurred,” Banks said.
Indeed, police determined over the weekend that the reported rape did not actually take place. “The incident of a hogtying rape not only didn’t happen a few weeks ago, we found no evidence that it ever occurred,” NYPD spokesman Stephen Davis said. According to the Times, the only similar incident that police found evidence for was a 2014 robbery at Bellevue in which the perpetrators had tied up their victim.
On Monday, in yet another letter, Banks, the city’s Human Resources commissioner, accused the Cuomo administration—who wrote their letter demanding an investigation of the purported rape and released it to the Post before an investigation could actually be conducted—of engaging in a “political media hit.”
“New York law prohibits making gratuitous reports to law enforcement, including initiating or circulating a false report,” Banks noted.
“It may have been reasonable for you to ask us for information about an incident that an O.T.D.A. inspector may have mistakenly believed occurred,” he continued, before declaring the state’s actions (in combination with the Post story) “reckless” and “harmful to our efforts to bring people in off the streets.”