D.C. Police Find Sex Assault Cases Watchdog Group Claims Weren't Investigated

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    NEWSLETTERS

    D.C. police have found 116 sexual assault cases that a watchdog group reported last month were not investigated by the department. News4's Pat Collins reports. (Published Monday, Feb 4, 2013)

    D.C. police have found 116 sexual assault cases that a watchdog group reported last month were not documented or investigated by the department.

    D.C. Police Chief Cathy Lanier described the report by Human Rights Watch as flawed, misleading and potentially dangerous.

    The group said it couldn’t find incident reports on 170 sex assault cases over a four-year period. D.C. police looked back and identified 116 cases and is still looking.

    “We tried to tell them that the methodology they were using was wrong, but they were comfortable using it,” Lanier said.

    The report also said some victims described being mistreated by police.

    Lanier is concerned the report will discourage victims from reporting sexual assaults.

    “What is that going to say to … any person who’s the victim of a sexual assault?” she said. “Are they going to want to come forward to police now?”

    Out of about 1,200 sex assault victims, Human Rights Watch interviewed about 15, according to D.C. police.

    Lanier also gave an example from the report of a letter from a victim. The report used the letter but excluded a paragraph praising the police department, Lanier said. That paragraph read:

    "Until I read the police report, I would have said that I had been treated exceedingly well by your officers. One officer stayed with me in my darkest hour, while I was alone in the hospital, curled in the fetal position, crying my eyes out. He looked miserably uncomfortable, but he steadfastly stayed with me, watched over me, and talked to me to help me calm down. To this day, I feel indebted to his kindness."

    "They use almost the contents of the entire letter, but they leave out anything positive that's written in that letter about conduct by the police," Lanier said.

    News4 has contacted Human Rights Watch and is waiting for their response to Lanier's comments.