An opponent in the race to unseat Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio will not face prosecution related to 30-year-old rape allegations from his adoptive mother.
Citing a conflict of interest, Arpaio forwarded the allegations to Pima County after an e-mail from the woman in April prompted him to send two detectives to interview her. Under advisement from the Pima County Attorney’s Office and Arizona Attorney General's Office, the Pima County Sheriff's Office last week said the statute of limitations had expired in declining to investigate former Mesa police Cmdr. Dan Saban.
The Apache Junction woman said she was Saban's adoptive mother and that he raped her at their Mesa home in July 1973. Saban, one of the candidates who want Arpaio's job, said he saw Pima County's decision as vindication. He characterized the matter as little |more than a political attack.
"And now it's starting to unravel in front of (Arpaio)," Saban said. "This matches his long history of taking out any political opposition. This is a total abuse of power."
Arpaio declined to comment on Pima County's decision. A request to interview Pima County Sheriff Clarence Dupnik also was declined.
"There's nothing more to say," said deputy Dawn Barkman, a Pima County Sheriff's spokeswoman. "We did the investigation. One of (the cases) was 30 years old, and that wasn't going to go anywhere. That case was definitely going to be closed." The other case, which did not involve Saban, was an unrelated harassment complaint from the mother that also was dropped.
Barkman said Pima County was not provided with any documents that she was aware of, and that the request came via telephone from Arpaio, sheriff to sheriff.
Saban and Arpaio, along with Tom Bearup, will be on a Republican ticket in the Sept. 7 primary.
The other candidates are Democrat Robert Ayala, independent W. Steven Martin and Hinton McLeod, a Libertarian.
Arpaio showed a strong following in a Rocky Mountain Poll earlier this year, with support from 71 percent of Republicans and 54 percent of both Democrats and independents. However, Saban has lined up high-profile endorsements from police unions and Mesa Mayor Keno Hawker. Several East Valley Republican districts also have blessed Saban's campaign and have asked Bearup to quit the race because they believe Saban has the best shot at unseating the popular Arpaio.
Saban said he hired an attorney and private investigator to defend himself against the recent allegations. He did not rule out legal action against Arpaio for what he called a "malicious" political attack.
MOTHER SENT E-MAIL
The woman who brought the allegations forward, Ruby Norman, was Saban's adoptive mother, he said. But Saban said that Norman physically and mentally abused him and his other siblings, many of whom have cut off all contact with her.
A woman identifying herself As Ruby Norman wrote e-mail messages to a Tribune reporter on Feb. 23 and 24. She said that Saban raped her when he was 17 after she had taken "a couple" sleeping pills.
"During my drugged sleep, dan came into my bedroom and he raped me," she wrote. Norman also accused Saban of threatening and manipulating his siblings, and that her only motivation was for him to admit his wrongdoings. In her message Norman also threatened to destroy Saban's campaign for sheriff.
"If dan does not tell his brothers the truth and make things right, i will see to it, that his candidacy goes down the drain. i will give this information to people that will use it against him," Norman wrote. "I guarentee sheriff joe arpaio will have the full story."
In subsequent correspondence, Norman could not provide any proof of the assault, saying she kept it quiet to avoid bringing scandal to the family. She could not be reached for further comment. Norman eventually did write an e-mail message to Arpaio on April 7, repeating the charge and saying, "I will stop his run for sheriff," according to records released by Arpaio's office.
Two sheriff's detectives interviewed Norman at her Apache Junction home on April 28. She told them she slept nude at the time of the alleged assault and awoke with Saban on top of her. Norman was also questioned about her e-mail to the Tribune.
Saban was one of two foster children in Norman's care, and she also had two natural children, he said.
In the course of his investigation, William Foreman, a Scottsdale attorney retained by Saban, took depositions from several of Saban's other foster siblings, Norman's son and other family members. Those interviewed characterized Norman as a "pathological liar."
According to the signed and notarized depositions, provided by Saban, Norman's former children — some of whom also entered careers in law enforcement — and an ex-husband said Norman manipulated their lives, and that she has made sexually-themed accusations before.
For example, Norman accused her ex-husband of molesting their daughter and another girl, both of whom denied the abuse ever happened. The ex-husband also said Norman forced their two children to lie about having cancer and other diseases so he would pay for nonexistent medical bills. Ruby Norman's son, now an Arizona Department of Corrections officer, confirmed that Norman had him lie to his father about the fictional diseases, and that she filed false reports to state authorities about the alleged molestations. He also told Foreman that in 2000 Norman wrote to his superiors and accused him of smuggling drugs into the prison, which resulted in an investigation. The charges were dismissed.
Another of Saban's foster brothers is now an investigator with the Austin, Texas, police department's organized crime unit. He said in a sworn statement that Norman wrote his ex-wife while he was overseas in military service and said he was having sex with other women. Norman also called her son and said his wife was having affairs.
CHARGED WITH FRAUD
Many of those deposed said Norman has been charged with fraud and other crimes, and that there had been many family discussions over the years about getting medical treatment for Norman. In a letter to Dupnik dated June 11, Foreman requested that Pima County authorities investigate Norman for unlawfully providing false statements to law enforcement officers.
Saying the sham accusations were an obvious political hatchet job by Arpaio, Foreman also requested Pima County to disclose information about communications between the agency and Maricopa County officials. Similar requests to Arpaio for information about the allegations were denied, Saban said.
"If you hope to salvage any legitimacy at all from this unfortunate set of circumstances, it should be the investigation and prosecution of Ruby Norman for her false, defamatory allegation against Dan Saban," he wrote.
Saban said his foster mother's manipulation led him to seek counseling that he had to report during interviews and polygraph tests in hiring processes for the four different law enforcement agencies he's worked for during his 28-year career. Regardless, Saban said he and his brothers rose above the mental abuse to become law enforcement officers.
"I have an emotional scar on my heart from her, but I'm a better man for it," he said.