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New Orleans Police Will Reopen More Than 1,000 Rape, Child Abuse Cases Virtually Ignored by Detectives

Mayor Landrieu

Mayor Landrieu

More than a thousand rape and child abuse cases that were ignored by five police detectives over a three-year period will be re-opened and thoroughly investigated, New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu said.

A report from the city’s inspector general found that the five detectives “failed to do substantial investigation” in more than 1,000 sex crimes and child abuse cases from January 2011 to December 2013. The report found that 65 percent of the cases were classified as “miscellaneous” and no report was written.

Some cases of potentially abused children and rape victims weren’t investigated at all—essentially tossed into the garbage. In a city that is 60 percent Black, this astounding negligence and arrogance likely had a huge impact on the Black women and children of the city.

The report found 271 cases where the detectives did some investigative work, but failed to file a follow up report. Police said that these cases would be the first to be reopened.

“I can’t express how angry and frustrated I am about the findings in this report,” Mayor Landrieu said.

Reuters reported that in one case, a toddler being treated at a hospital for a sexual assault was found to have had a sexually transmitted disease. A detective closed the case because the child had failed to provide information that could lead to an investigation.

Police superintendent Michael Harrison, who took over the long-troubled force earlier this year after the retirement of his predecessor, Ronald Serpas, has said he was “deeply disturbed” by the allegations and vowed to make widespread changes in the department to rebuild community trust.

Of the detectives in question, police officials said they have been transferred to patrol duty and are under further investigation. In addition, two supervisors who oversaw them have been transferred.

Harrison said the five detectives could face criminal charges and be fired after an internal investigation is complete.

The New Orleans police force had been the subject of a probe by the US Justice Department, which found that force was rife with corruption and had numerous instances of excessive use of deadly force, discrimination and problems with its sex crimes unit. In 2012, the city agreed to a number of reforms, whose implementation are being overseen by a federal monitor.

In 2010, “more than 800 rape kits sat on the shelf collecting dust,” Landrieu said. He said the sex crimes division was “failing” when he became the mayor in 2010 but the mayor took credit for “overhauling the sex crimes unit” and clearing the backlog in rape kit analysis.

However, “we now know that we did not pull this problem out by the root,” Landrieu said.


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