By Claire Byun
After a slew of sexual assault reports in the last few months, Faubourg St. John neighbors were concerned about a serial rapist in the area. Officials from the New Orleans Police Department assured residents against that idea.
Commander Doug Eckert, who’s in charge of the NOPD’s Sex Crimes Unit, spoke to the Faubourg St. John Neighborhood Association during their monthly meeting Tuesday. Eckert reassured residents that there’s no serial rapist running around the Fairgrounds, and only one rape has been reported so far this year.
“We do not have a serial rapist,” Eckert said. “And if we did, we’d be attacking that right now. ”
Eckart said he searched through sexual assault reports since January 1 of this year, and found one rape within the actual boundaries of Faubourg St. John. The rape, which occurred in mid-March in the 1700 block of North Dupree St., involved a woman who was walking back to her home after getting off the bus.
The victim was followed by the suspect – a black man in his mid-20s, – when he forced his way into her home while she was opening the door. He told the victim to undress and demanded money from her while implying he had a gun, Eckart said. The victim gave the suspect a few dollars and he sexually assaulted her, then left the residence.
“That’s the only incident we’ve had like that in this area,” Eckart said.
There was also a sexual assault reported in the 3400 block of Esplanade, Eckart said, which is the extent of the sexual assaults inside Faubourg St. John so far this year.
Jim Danner, safety director of FSJNA, invited Eckart – and Commanders of NOPD’s First and Third Districts – to the meeting Tuesday to clear up misinformation and reassure residents. Danner said reports of sexual assaults are worrying – especially without details.
“So that’s why we’re going straight to the source,” Danner said.
There were a few reported sexual assaults outside of official Faubourg St. John boundaries, Eckart said. A rape was reported on the 1600 block of North Conti Street, and another reported on the 2400 block of St. Bernard Avenue.
There were three reported sexual batteries in the Third District his year, but those aligned more along Gentilly. Commander Jimmy Scott, who oversees the Fairgrounds Patrol, said e knew about the sexual assaults in the neighborhood as soon as they happened.
But, due to the lack of a pattern and the fact that most were by a known suspect or family member, Scott said it wasn’t enough of an issue to classy a trend.
“I know they are not related, and that we’re not having a serial rapist here,” Scott said.
He eschewed NOPD’s policy to place an “aggravated rape” symbol on the public crime map, because then the public knows where the crime takes place – and possibly who it affects.
Scott said highlighting where a rape takes place and inadvertently identifying the victim is “an embarrassment to the victim’s family.”
Danner further reassured residents that the police aren’t hiding anything from the neighborhood, since FSJNA officials are constantly in contact with the NOPD. If there ever is a problem, the neighborhood would know.
“There’s not much that goes on between the neighborhood association and the NOPD that y’all don’t know about,” Danner said.