One of the country's leading women's rights attorneys blasted the NOPD once again after suffering a setback in Civil Court.
Attorney Gloria Allred and the city of New Orleans came up short Monday in an effort to block NOLA.com | The Times-Picayune from including information obtained in a supplemental report on a rape investigation that Allred says was mishandled from the start.
It's been two weeks since Allred came to New Orleans to represent Jane Doe, a woman who says she was raped by a hotel security guard when she and her husband were visiting the city during Carnival.
"There was blood in the room and I had bruises all over," said the alleged victim.
Allred got involved after an inspector general's report said five NOPD rape investigators did little or no work. She said they botched the Jane Doe case, allowing a rapist to go free.
"If anyone in the NOPD thinks I'm going to be intimidated, they are seriously miscalculating," Allred said.
Allred went to Civil Court Monday to block media from using information included in a supplemental report on her client's rape investigation. Allred said the report was illegally obtained and victimized her client once again.
"The impact on my client has been devastating ... and we're concerned about the impact on other rape victims in this town," said Allred.
The supplemental report was written by Detective Vernon Haynes, one of five NOPD officers reassigned while dozens of rape cases are investigated. Vernon's report said the sex between Jane Doe and the security guard was consensual.
"All I can say is we have no confidence in the detective's report," said Allred.
An attorney for NOLA.com | The Times-Picayune argued that their reporter had a right to use the information, under the First Amendment, a position with which the Civil Court judge agreed.
"I think the TP always had the right to publish information of this case, but the reason it's a news story is that Jane Doe came forward and alleged the case was mishandled, and that's what makes this case a matter of public concern," said attorney Lori Mince.
In issuing his ruling, Judge Kern Reese said granting the request by Allred and the city would have a chilling effect on the freedom of the press. He went on to say, "It is the province of the Fourth Estate to investigate," and he said he "didn't want to do anything to abridge that."
"I'm just concerned that witnesses may never want to come forward because what they say may be published in a supplemental report," said Allred.
Allred wants a full investigation, something the NOPD says is already underway. Allred believes today's ruling was a partial victory because the judge ordered that the rape victim's name not be used, even though she appeared on camera. Allred said she's especially angry over the NOPD's handling of the Jane Doe case, because as of last month, the NOPD never had Doe's rape kit analyzed.
She says she is now being assured that's the analysis is being done.
The city released the following statement:
"We were disappointed that the Court did not bar media from contacting the victim and the witnesses listed in a supplemental report that was obtained unlawfully, and instead suggested that the victim hang up the phone if contacted by a reporter and come back to Court. As the NOPD works to reinvestigate this case, it remains unclear if witnesses are being contacted and speaking with the media.
"In order to protect the integrity of an investigation and to protect the privacy of victims, it is important to maintain confidentiality of facts related to ongoing criminal investigations, particularly with sex crimes that under Louisiana law are given a higher level of protection when it comes to disclosure or records. If you or someone you love was a victim of rape, would you want the media to call you to ask about it?
"We were pleased the Court ruled that the media could not report the name of the victim or her husband. The Public Integrity Bureau launched an investigation into how this supplemental report was leaked, and that investigation is on-going."