Saturday, November 22, 2014

Louisiana: New Orleans Police Ignore Rape of Married Woman From Texas

According to a Texas woman who visited New Orleans with her husband for Mardi Gras, a tradition for the last three years. One night, while her husband was away from their French Quarter guest-room, she says a security guard raped her.

Despite blood in the room and evidence of defensive wounds, a New Orleans Police Department (NOPD) detective said that the sex was consensual and refused to follow up on the case, she said.

Texas woman says her rape report was ignored by the NOPD's Special Victims UnitA Texas woman and her husband say they came to New Orleans for Mardi Gras in March of 2014 and the woman reported that she was raped in their hotel room while her husband was away. She says one of the five New Orleans Police Department detectives that mishandled 271 sexual assualt and child abuse cases according to the city's Inspector General's recent report ignored her complaint. Despite blood in the room and evidence of defensive wounds, a NOPD detective said that the sex was consensual and refused to follow up on the case, she said.
The woman shared her story outside the 2nd District police station Uptown before a scheduled meeting with NOPD officials to discuss her case. She was joined by her husband and Gloria Allred, a nationally known women's rights attorney and media personality.

The rape victim, who was 39 at the time the report was, did not disclosed her name, and The Times-Picayune does not usually identify victims of sex crimes. Yet, she and her husband agreed to speak before cameras.

Her visit to New Orleans comes after a new report by Inspector General Ed Quatrevaux, whose office investigated the handling of more than a thousand reports of rape and child abuse that occurred over the three-year period ending in December 2013.

The NOPD detective who handled the woman's case, identified by the department as Vernon Haynes, is one of the five detectives in the Special Victims Unit who was the subject of Quatrevaux's inquiry.

While her experience falls outside the timeframe examined by the inspector general, her complaint of being dismissed by police matches those of other victims who have spoken out in the aftermath of the scathing report. 

NOPD Commander Paul Noel, who is overseeing a task force created to re-investigate hundreds of rape and child-abuse cases that may have been mishandled, met with the rape victim. Addressing reporters before the meeting, he said he could not speak specifically about her case. Yet, he vowed to treat it with the utmost seriousness, as he will all the cases that he has been assigned to rework.

The rape victim, reading from a prepared statement with tears running down her cheeks, said that she was at a New Orleans hotel when she was raped by a security guard. Her husband was not in the room.

COMMENT: For those of our readers who are unfamiliar with the crime rate in the Big Easy, I respectfully offer two vital links below:
It should be noted that the above link is a national database. As a matter of interest, the crime threat in New Orleans is 10. Nationwide, 100 is deemed SAFE!

My 22 years'  experience as a federal agent tells me that prudent and cautious travelers should be very wary in New Orleans, as it is undoubtedly a high-risk destination. It should also be noted that unlimited alcohol and a wide-open city are hardly a wholesome combination: 

The rape victim reported her victimization to the hotel, which she did not name, and to police. She went to the hospital, where a rape kit was performed. A week later, Detective Haynes told her that he had identified the security guard, but that the investigation would go no further because the intercourse was consensual, the woman said. "He did not explain why he had come to that conclusion."

The only police record available Friday showed NOPD logged a report of "simple rape," at a Bourbon Street address late on Wednesday, March 5. That record is based on 911 calls for service.

NOPD did not immediately make the initial incident report available Friday. Officer Frank Robertson, an NOPD spokesman, referred requests to the department's records division, which was already closed for the day.

The victim's husband, a physician, was in the room when she was examined. "I am a physician," he said. "All the signs were consistent with my wife having been raped."

The husband said he confronted Haynes about his conclusion that the sex was consensual. "The only thing he said was that he had spoken to the security guard who admitted having sex with my wife, but since he said that it was consensual, that was that," the husband said.

When the husband tried to reach the detective's supervisor, the supervisor never called back. 

Neither the victim nor her husband went into detail about the circumstances of the attack, including the name of the hotel where they were staying.

Gloria Allred declined to go into the specifics of the investigation, saying only that she had "good reason to believe" that the investigation was not thoroughly carried out.

The inspector general's report found that Haynes and four other detectives routinely misclassified reports of rape, resulting in no followup. In 271 cases where there was documented probable cause to show that a rape had occurred, there was no paperwork to demonstrate that anything more than a cursory investigation was undertaken.

NOPD Superintendent Michael Harrison said there was enough evidence that they had failed to do their jobs to place them on desk duty pending the oucome of internal investigations. 

Two of their supervisors from the Special Victims Section, Lt. Louis Gaydosh and Sgt. James Kelly, have been transferred to police districts and also remain under internal investigation.

Allred did not rule out the possibility of a future civil lawsuit against the New Orleans Police Department.

"I was devastated when he said that the rape was consensual," the victim said. "When I found out that the detective was one of the five that was involved in hundreds of other cases that were mishandled, I was sick to my stomach." She added, "I'm still hoping for justice and that the person who raped me will be prosecuted. I also want other victims to feel that they too can come forward."

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