OIG exposes problems in NOPD Sex Crimes Unit

Published: Nov. 12, 2014 at 10:27 PM CST|Updated: Nov. 12, 2014 at 11:32 PM CST
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Rape, domestic violence and child abuse have been described as the most heinous of crimes, but the NOPD detectives assigned to investigate them are now accused of dropping the ball on possibly hundreds of cases.

The Office Of Inspector General's report is being called "disturbing" and gives specific examples involving five NOPD detectives and the cases they handled.

"In one case, a doctor found a skull fracture on an infant that had a prior skull fracture, as well," said Deputy Inspector General Howard Schwartz. "The detective wrote in the report 'no cause for criminal action' even though the mother changed her story several times."

In a separate case, the report states that a nurse collected DNA from a victim in a sexual assault kit, but the NOPD detective never submitted the kit to a DNA lab.

One detective reportedly told several people that he didn't believe simple rape should be a crime.

"These failures do have serious human consequences for all, and 15 involve children," said IG Ed Quatrevaux.

The Inspector General's office said from 2011 until 2013, there were 1,290 calls for service involving a possible sex crime. Of those, 840 were written up as "miscellaneous," meaning no report was ever written.

In all, 450 reports were written, but in 60 percent of those cases, there was no supplemental report and no follow-up investigation.

In three years' time, the detectives presented only 105 cases to the DA's Office. Seventy-four of those cases were accepted, but the DA's office is being praised for doing its own investigation of those cases so that prosecution was possible.

As the Inspector General's office examined the reports, they also found that some of them were back-dated.

"We checked with the IT Department, who found that those reports were created somewhere between two and three years later on the same day, shortly after the IG had asked for those reports by two of these five detectives," Schwartz said.

"As a police department, we will not tolerate it," said NOPD Superintendent Michael Harrison. "Sex crimes are among the most heinous that we investigate here at the NOPD. Victims cannot afford to wait, and they deserve better."

The five detectives have been reassigned and are now on patrol in various districts. The NOPD's Public Integrity Bureau is also investigating.

"We're not running from it. We're not hiding it," Harrison said. "The investigation will be thorough, and Chief Westbrook will let me know this was not a mistake. This was intentional. Those recommendations will lead to discipline."

pr>Quatrevaux said the most disturbing aspect of this report involves cases where children may have been repeatedly abused because no action was ever taken to stop it.

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