NOPD officers placed on desk duty over handling of sex cases

NOPD officers placed on desk duty over handling of sex cases

Five NOPD officers accused of mishandling possibly hundreds of sex cases are no longer working on the street. They've all been assigned to desk duty pending the outcome of an internal investigation.

"For so long, everybody knew there were problems but they weren't acknowledged," says Darlene Santana.

Santana and Rebecca Rainey, with the Metropolitan Center for Women and Children, have heard the stories from women who say they reported sexual abuse to police, but nothing was done about it.

"It's disturbing, and we do experience that on a regular basis. We just tell them don't give up and don't stop," says Santana.

When they saw the results of an Inspector General's report slamming five NOPD detectives in the sex crimes unit for allegedly mishandling cases, they were shocked.

"It was pretty hard to take in. I was kind of speechless just by the numbers," says Rainey.

Investigators with the IG's Office reviewed more than 1,200 calls for service over a three-year period and found that 65 percent of the time, no investigation was conducted.

"Hundreds and hundreds and hundreds [of cases] were just kind of put in a shredder, not even given any sort of attention, not even respect to write a note on the case is very disturbing," says Rainey.

More than a dozen of the cases involved children.

"There was a child that was brought in with a skull fracture and there was evidence of a healed skull fracture. There was no criminal activity," says Santana.

Doctors and nurses even documented the possible abuse of the infant with the skull fracture as non-accidental. There was also a toddler with a sexually transmitted disease and another child who lived in the home with a registered sex offender. In each report, the detective closed the case without further investigating.

"They were left behind. They were left behind with no attention and put back in situations with people who were hurting them and were supposed to be taking care of them," says Rainey.

One detective reportedly said he didn't believe "simple rape" should be a crime. In a separate case, a detective failed to submit an alleged victim's sexual assault kit to the DNA lab.

"You may remember a couple of years ago, we actually changed people out of this unit," said Mayor Mitch Landrieu. "So evidently it's not just a personnel problem, it's an institutional problem. And when you're changing an organization and it's going the wrong way, you can't just change people. You have to change the culture of the organization."

Over a three-year period, the detectives presented the DA's office with only 105 cases. Seventy-four of them were accepted.

"It means the DA's office had to do the work that the police should have done," says FOX 8 legal analyst Joe Raspanti.

Raspanti says despite the hard work of the DA's office, those cases could now be in jeopardy.

"The defense attorney is going to put the cop on the stand and say, 'officer even though my client is indicted, isn't true that when you did your investigation, you didn't find any reason to arrest him?'" says Raspanti.

"I can't imagine that there aren't going to be implications from this," says Rainey.

Rainey is hoping victims won't have to suffer again - this time in the court system.

The Public Integrity Bureau is investigating each officer, and Superintendent Michael Harrison says if there are any criminal violations, the NOPD will not hesitate to take further action.

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