Perloff, in a photo provided by her attorney (Stephanie Keith)
An Occupy Wall Street protester who had her breast grabbed by an NYPD sergeant has won a $95,000 settlement from the city after arguing that “the police department demonstrated a pattern of sexual misconduct against female OWS activists.”
Cressa Perloff was arrested on March 17th, 2012, while she stood on the sidewalk during a demonstration to commemorate the six-month anniversary of OWS.
In a statement, Perloff’s attorney, Rebecca Heinegg, says that video from that date shows that NYPD Sergeant Joseph Catapano “grabbed her breast purposefully, dragged her into the street by her breast and hair, and arrested her.”
Catapano claimed that Perloff, who had never been arrested before, was trying to steal his badge, though he later admitted that this was untrue.
According to Heinegg’s release, “In his deposition, Catapano stated that he had not received training on sex crimes since 2000 and that he believed ‘you grab whatever means necessary to affect an arrest.'” (Catapano has since retired.)
Perloff later refused to submit to an NYPD iris scan, and the judge set her bail at $1,000; three months later, the charges against her were dropped.
Two months after her arrest, Perloff says another NYPD officer looked her in the eye and called her an “ugly cunt.” In a civil suit, Perloff’s attorneys pointed to similar cases, including Cecily McMillian’s, to show that the NYPD had repeatedly sexual assaulted female OWS protesters.
In an email, a spokesperson for the Law Department said, “Settlement was best for the city.”
“Friends ask me if it feels like I’m finally getting to close this chapter. I say no, not at all,” Perloff, who suffers from PTSD, says in the statement. “This one incident and its repercussions continue to hugely affect my life, and I’m only just beginning to accept the person I am now.”