Richardson: 'Progress' in MCSO investigations won't give back Mesa girl's stolen childhood - East Valley Tribune: Columnists

Richardson: 'Progress' in MCSO investigations won't give back Mesa girl's stolen childhood

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Retired Mesa master police officer Bill Richardson lives in the East Valley and can be reached at bill.richardson@cox.net.

Posted: Thursday, August 23, 2012 4:03 pm | Updated: 2:54 pm, Mon Aug 27, 2012.

Imagine for a moment you’re a child. Your life isn’t normal. It’s controlled by fear and pain. It’s that way because you’re being raped by your 43-year-old uncle who lives in your home with you and your family.

In March 2007 you tell your school counselor about the rapes. She calls the Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office to report the attacks. You tell sheriff’s deputy what happened. You tell the truth. You think now you’ll finally be safe.

So imagine your fear when for some unknown reason to you, your uncle returns to your home and starts raping you all over again. This time he impregnates you.

You’ve done everything right. You’ve done no wrong, but others have. Like the sheriff’s office that failed to do their job.

The story I just told is true and according to newspaper stories in last week’s East Valley Tribune and Arizona Republic, the MCSO is now being sued for failing to protect a 13-year-old girl who was raped repeatedly by her uncle before and after reporting the crimes to the sheriff’s office.

Even though the case was workable, meaning there were leads to follow, investigative methods available to prove a crime was committed and evidence to support the story of the victim, the MCSO classified the case as “inactive.”

The case was inactivated even though two months after the crimes were reported to MCSO, the Arizona Department of Public Safety crime lab found “semen” on a swab taken from the young girl’s vagina during a medical examination.

The crime lab instructed MCSO to get a DNA sample from the uncle so the DNA from the vaginal swab could be compared to his and link him to the crime. MCSO didn’t take a DNA sample until 2011. It was only then when the uncle was finally charged with the crimes committed against his niece. The uncle has pled guilty and is awaiting sentencing.

These particular sex crimes took place in a county island east of Mesa and are not part of the 432 un-investigated sex crimes cases reported to the MCSO in El Mirage and western Maricopa County. Following the public disclosure of that massive MCSO failure in those cases, Sheriff Joe Arpaio told the media, “If there were any victims, I apologize to those victims.”

It’s been reported that sex crimes cases in the West Valley were put on the back burner so the sheriff could run his publicity-driven immigration round-ups.

MCSO Chief Deputy Jerry Sheridan, Arpaio’s second in command, is quoted as saying of the Mesa case “he was disheartened by the claim because the Sheriff’s Office has worked to improve its abuse investigations. We’ve made a lot of progress since we first detected these cases.”

In the East Valley case, the Phoenix New Times reported this week that the deputy assigned to this particular case was ordered to work a mortgage fraud case assigned directly to her by a Deputy Chief B. Knight. The detective also reportedly was assigned to work on a credit card fraud report involving the Arizona Diamondbacks.

KPNX Channel 12 reported last year “Maricopa County records show the MCSO misspent more than $600,000 dollars earmarked for investigations of sex crimes and child abuse cases.”

To think that the health and welfare of victims of sexual assault, the investigation of current sex crimes and the prevention of future sex crimes didn’t take precedence over publicity stunts, a pet project for a deputy chief and a credit card fraud case is abominable.

The bottom line is that MCSO, under the direction of Sheriff Arpaio, failed massively in their statutory duties and professional and moral responsibilities.

As for the MCSO’s “progress” since their investigative failures were made public, all the progress in the world won’t give a Mesa girl back the childhood that was stolen from her by a sexual predator and the inaction of the MCSO.

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