On November 12, 2014, the City of New Orleans, Louisiana Office of Inspector General released its report examining the handling of sex crime investigations by five Detectives in the Special Victims Section of the New Orleans Police Department (NOPD) over a three-year period. The report is replete with chilling details of justice being denied to numerous victims of sex crimes and violence, including infants.
Out of 1,290 sex crime-related calls for service that were assigned to the five detectives, only 179 contained supplemental reports documenting any additional investigative efforts beyond the initial report. The remaining 1,111 cases were not investigated.
Ninety reports of investigation (ROI) were randomly selected by the Audit Division. Twenty-three of them aroused significant concerns. Some reports were thrown together years after the listed date of creation, did not document any investigative follow-up or contained information that was materially different from related medical reports. The investigation also noted that NOPD supervisors failed to notice glaring problems concerning the documentation of investigative efforts by the five detectives for the three-year period. These concerns prompted the Investigations Division to conduct a comprehensive review of every case that the detectives were assigned between January 1, 2011 and December 31, 2013.
Some of the most horrific cases where the justice system failed the victims include the following:
- A child under the age of three is brought to the hospital emergency room due to an alleged sexual assault. A review of the victim’s medical records reveals that the child has a sexually transmitted disease. The Detective writes that the victim did not disclose any information that would warrant a criminal investigation. Case is closed.
- An infant is brought to the hospital emergency room with a skull fracture. The emergency room nurse wrote that she “suspected non-accidental trauma.” Case is closed with no investigation.
- A child is brought to the hospital emergency room due to an alleged sexual assault. The forensic interview report reveals specific information regarding sexual and physical abuse by a named individual, living in the child’s household. That individual is a registered sex offender. The Detective notes that the child did not disclose any information regarding a sexual assault. Case is closed due to a “lack of evidence.”
- An infant is brought to the hospital emergency room with a skull fracture. The doctor finds fresh and old skull fractures. The victim’s mother changes her story several times. Case is closed with no investigation.
- A female reports being sexually assaulted and is examined by a Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner. The NOPD is provided with the sexual assault kit. The original report claims that the Louisiana State Police DNA Laboratory found no results in the sexual assault kit. However, a review of the laboratory’s records reveals that the kit was never submitted for testing.
- The Detective writes that no DNA evidence was discovered in a rape case. However, this is directly contradicted by Louisiana State Police DNA Laboratory records, which demonstrate that DNA evidence had been discovered, with no follow-up.
When officers file an initial report, it’s intentionally short and vague so as not to identify the victim, Inspector General Ed Quatrevaux told CNN. The report mentions the assault and the location, while noting that a supplemental report will follow. “But in 60 percent of the cases, there was no supplemental report,” he said. “There were a total of 1290 cases; 840, there’s not a word, even a single word. Nothing. Nothing. There’s nothing to note.” Based on these revelations, chances of justice for at least 1,111 victims of sexual crimes and violence in New Orleans can be described in a similar way: next to nothing.