January 24, 2013

II. Police Failure to Document and Investigate

Law Enforcement has a legal and moral obligation to thoroughly investigate reports of suspected sexual abuse and to determine whether a crime has been committed. This investigation must be carried out in a professional and sensitive manner…. The detective must also realize that the investigation may have a tremendous impact on the welfare of the victim as well as the successful prosecution of the offender.
—Metropolitan Police Department, Standard Operating Procedures, Sexual Assault Unit, January 14, 2003, p. 19
Cases [in D.C.] almost always end up dead in the water. I have no belief cases will go forward.
—L.O., university counselor, Washington, D.C., March 28, 2011 

Human Rights Watch initiated research into the MPD’s handling of sexual assault cases after observing the unusually low numbers of sexual assaults that the MPD reported to the FBI.

Under the FBI’s Uniform Crime Reporting (UCR) program, police departments voluntarily report statistics for certain crimes, including what is termed in the program “forcible rape.” Until changes in 2012, the definition of “forcible rape” used by the FBI was “carnal knowledge of a female forcibly and against her will,” which is both outdated and most importantly excludes a significant number of rapes and sexual assaults (including drug or alcohol-facilitated sexual assault, sodomy, rape of men, and statutory rape). Nevertheless, comparative numbers reported can still shed some light on potential areas of concern.[124]

Only a small fraction of cities with a population of more than 100,000 report more murders than rapes. Typically, rapes are reported at a multiple of the murder rate; often more than four times as many rapes as murders are reported in urban areas.[125] Of the four cities where more murders than rapes were reported in recent years, two (Baltimore and New Orleans) have already been the subject of investigations that revealed police practices of

either not documenting sexual assault cases or downgrading them to non-criminal offenses. [126] The District of Columbia, with a population of approximately 600,000, reported the same number of rapes and murders in 2008 (186) and 7 more rapes than murders in 2009 (143 murders v. 150 rapes). [127]

MPD also reports “clearance rates” for rape that are significantly higher than the FBI’s average. “Clearance” refers to the disposition of a criminal case. Under the Uniform Crime Reporting System possible dispositions include:

  •  “Closed by arrest” (when a person is arrested, charged with the commission of an offense, and the case is presented to the court for prosecution);
  •  “Unfounded” (when investigation reveals no offense occurred, nor was attempted); and
  •  “Exceptionally closed” (when the offender is identified and enough evidence exists to support an arrest, but the offender cannot be arrested for reasons beyond law enforcement’s control). [128]

In 2010, the UCR average clearance for rape cases for cities between 500,000 and 1,000,000 people was 40.6 percent. The clearance rate reported by MPD for rape was 67.7 percent in 2007; 65.1 percent in 2008; 76.7 percent in 2009; and 59.8 percent in 2010.[129] The high clearance rate and the relatively low number of reported rapes raise questions because it may indicate selective documentation of cases. A 2010 National Institute of Justice study found that in places where detectives were reporting exceptionally high clearance rates, departments had found ways to “dispose” of cases that they did not like and calculated the clearance rates only on “good” cases.[130]

Members of the community who work on issues relating to sexual assault shared with Human Rights Watch their concerns that MPD does not investigate sexual assault cases.[131] Advocates and medical staff recalled numerous instances where patients thought they had reported a sexual assault but there was no record of it with MPD.[132]

Very few of the people interviewed by Human Rights Watch who work with survivors could remember even one case that was successfully prosecuted.[133] The threshold for cases moving forward was described by one interviewee as “very high, even if there are text messages, witnesses, an immediate report and a clear memory.”[134] In order to get the police to investigate, another witness told Human Rights Watch that the victims “have to give them a dog and pony show.”[135]

The consequence of police disregarding a victim’s report is simple and dire: a perpetrator will not be held to account. When sexual assaults “disappear,” victims often feel a sense of betrayal and distrust that can seriously damage their recovery from the sexual assault.

As the director of the Department of Justice Office of Violence Against Woman stated, not counting sexual assault “send[s] an appalling message to these victims that their crimes don’t count.”[136]

An artificial drop in reported crime numbers also denies the public the right to know actual crime rates in their areas and distorts public policy debates over allocating resources for law enforcement and victim services. Since some studies show that sexual predators commit multiple offenses before they are caught and jailed, it is especially important that each case is investigated and evidence collected.[137] Ultimately, community awareness— or perception— that police do not take these crimes seriously also leads to victims being less willing to report sexual assaults.[138]

Human Rights Watch found the following areas of concern with respect to the MPD’s investigation of sexual assaults, each of which is discussed below:

  • Over one third of cases (35.4 percent) between 2009 and 2011 in which victims went to Washington Hospital Center for a forensic exam and reported an assault to the MPD could not be found as documented at all in MPD records.
  • An additional 7 percent of the cases from the hospital that the MPD did document were classified as for “office information only” and therefore not investigated. Human Rights Watch found dozens of other sexual assault cases placed in this category in police files, all of which were effectively closed without any investigation apart from the initial complainant’s report.
  • Some sexual assault cases in which another crime also occurred (such as burglary) were not investigated as sexual assault cases at all. Other sexual assault cases were classified as misdemeanors despite indicia of more serious offenses.
  • A number of investigative files reviewed by Human Rights Watch revealed incomplete investigations, a lack of supervisory review, and a high rate of closures by the US Attorney’s Office because cases were considered too weak. This suggests that the MPD’s high “clearance by arrest” rate for sexual assaults may be a result of administrative closures rather than arrests.

Missing Cases and the PD-251s

MPD official policy is to file a report for all reported crimes and incidents that come to its attention.[139] Even if the reported event is not a crime (such as a lost wallet) or is not within the MPD’s jurisdiction (for example, if the crime occurred in Maryland), all incidents or crimes are supposed to be documented in an incident/offense report, the PD-251.[140]

MPD General Orders (a set of internal policy guidelines and rules for officers about investigating adult sexual assault cases) dating from at least 2001 state that whenever an officer responds to a call for service or is notified regarding a complaint of sexual abuse, an incident report will be completed to document the complaint. [141] Incident reports are publicly available and contain basic information about the location of the crime, the type of crime, the victim, suspect, weapons used or property taken, as well as a brief narrative. [142]

According to the SAU’s Standard Operating Procedures, “A PD-251 shall be included with every numbered sex abuse case.”[143] PD-251s are also supposed to be prepared for complaints of sexual abuse that an SAU member, after preliminary investigation, determines lack the criteria to be considered sexual abuse (called “allegations”).[144]

A December 2006 directive for handling sexual abuse cases states that the officer who arrives on scene shall, “Prepare a PD Form 251 and request assistance from the SAU detective regarding the proper classification.” [145] The PD-251 is supposed to be provided to the SAU detective “by the end of the tour of duty.” [146] On June 8, 2012, the MPD issued a reminder to all members of the police department that they are required to take an incident report for “all alleged sexual assaults and assaults with sexual overtones regardless of the circumstances” in accordance with police policy. [147] The PD-251s are reviewed by the reporting officer or detective’s supervisor. [148] All PD-251s are also subject to “staff review.” [149]

If no PD-251 is prepared, no official record of the assault exists in MPD.[150] The database maintained by the police department, Washington Area Criminal Intelligence Information System (WACIIS), contains information about calls to MPD for sexual assaults. But, as one police source put it, “No PD-251, no investigation.”[151] When asked if an investigation should be conducted without one, Assistant Chief Peter Newsham said that “the officer would be in trouble.”[152]

As part of its records request to the MPD, Human Rights Watch asked for all PD-251 reports at MPD for adult sexual assault cases and “allegations” (complaints of sexual abuse that an SAU member, after preliminary investigation, determines lack the criteria to be considered sexual abuse) from January 1, 2008 to 2011. We received responses to this request in August and December of 2011 and April 2012. After we notified the MPD of the initial findings in this report on May 30, 2012, the MPD provided us with over 1000 incident reports from 2008 through 2011, which they state is a complete set of PD-251s. We have incorporated these reports into this analysis. In addition, in June and August 2012, we reviewed the MPD’s WACIIS database to search for missing cases that the MPD may not have classified as sexual abuse cases in its system. This included “office information” or “miscellaneous” cases, as well as cases for which no PD-251 was prepared. (See the sidebar for a more detailed chronology of data collection from the MPD).

Through the Freedom of Information Act, Human Rights Watch also requested and received records from the Office of Victims Services (OVS), which oversees the SANE Program at Washington Hospital Center (WHC), the only SANE center in the District of Columbia metro area.

The SANE program regularly reports to OVS the number of forensic exams it administers. It further breaks that number down into those who do not report an assault to the police, those who report their assault to the police, and those for whom an exam was not performed though one was initially requested (“exam exemptions”). Human Rights Watch undertook this analysis after two sources informed us that in their efforts to follow up on sexual assault reports with the MPD, they found no case number had been assigned in a significant number of incidents in which the victim had believe they had reported a sexual assault to the MPD.[153]

Because the nurses usually examine victims after law enforcement speaks with them, they are able to record whether or not the victim is reporting a case to police and which police department was contacted. Human Rights Watch received dates of every sexual assault case seen by the unit for fiscal years 2009, 2010, and 2011. We also reviewed a handwritten log kept by nurses of reported sexual assaults from October 1, 2008, to November 30, 2009. And we reviewed exam exemption forms that nurses prepare when a patient does not undergo an exam for 2009-2011. These forms indicate whether or not the patient is reporting their case to the police and often the name of the detective.

We coded each case based on whether the case resulted in a report filed with the MPD, no report was filed, there was an exam exemption, or whether there was no code or error in the records. Between October 1, 2008, and September 30, 2011, WHC reported seeing 791 patients at their SANE program. Of those, 260 patients did not report to the MPD, were exam exempt, or had an unclear record. We removed these cases from our analysis. An additional 51 cases were marked as outside of the MPD’s jurisdiction and were also excluded from the analysis.[154] In total, we documented that 480 patients, at least, reported their assault to the MPD according to WHC for the time period examined.

In response to a summary of our report, the MPD, in June 2012, described five instances in which police would not be required to make a report. They included:

  • A case in which a complainant described an assault that occurred 24 years ago, beyond the 15-year statute of limitations;
  • Two cases in which the victims decided not to report after speaking with detectives at WHC;
  • An incident in which a victim stated she was harassed by a man who said she looked like a man but did not disclose a sexual assault;
  • And a case in which the police were called to a scene of a family disturbance but were told when they arrived that there was no assault, but that the parties were arguing.

However, none of these cases would have been included in Human Rights Watch’s analysis of missing cases. The only cases compared to MPD PD-251s were cases in which the victim went to Washington Hospital Center for an exam and reported their assault to the police. Cases in which the victim reported an event outside the window for a forensic exam would be excluded from the comparison, as would cases in which the police indicated the victim did not go to the hospital for a forensic exam. 

Human Rights Watch compared the dates of the 480 sexual assaults reported to the MPD from Washington Hospital Center to the dates on the PD-251s to determine which of the cases reported from the hospital showed a match to an MPD incident report. [155] Human Rights Watch included in its count of police reports all PD-251s for any case that could have gone to the hospital, including attempted assaults with no penetration, allegations of sexual abuse, misdemeanors with significant bodily contact, other types of sexual assault that could potentially have resulted in a forensic exam, and cases without a clear classification. 

Cases in which the police clearly indicated that the patient refused medical treatment or that medical attention was “not applicable” were excluded from the analysis, as were misdemeanors in which contact was minimal (such as a slapped bottom or a pinch) for which a forensic exam was unlikely. [156] Cases outside the time frame were also excluded from the analysis.

Between October 1, 2008, and September 30, 2011, Human Rights Watch found 183 police files clearly marked as having originated at Washington Hospital Center. [157] For an additional 216 files, it was unclear from the information available whether the victim went to Washington Hospital Center. These PD-251s were included in the analysis. Because police are required to fill out a PD-251 on their shift and they meet victims at the hospital when they have an exam, it can be expected that a PD-251 for each case will be filed within one day of the hospital report for that case. [158] Therefore, if the dates of a PD-251 corresponded within one day to an exam, we deemed the incidents a match. [159]

We found that between October 2008 and September 2011, for at least 35 percent of victims whom Washington Hospital Center documented as having sought a forensic exam and reported their assault to the MPD while at the hospital, there was no corresponding case recorded in a PD-251 within one day of the exam. There were 310 matches between cases documented at Washington Hospital Center and available PD-251s. For 170 cases in which Washington Hospital Center recorded a victim as having reported an assault to the MPD, we could find no corresponding record at the MPD within one day.

Thus a comparison of hospital reports shows only 64.5 percent of hospital reports can be linked by date to a PD-251. Of those cases, thirty-four were classified in police records as “office information” which, according to police policy, means they were not investigated.[160] Therefore, the documents indicate that a total of 204 out of 480 reports (42.5 percent) were not documented or investigated by the MPD.

Of the 276 cases that were documented and investigated, 227 (82.2 percent) were classified as first or second degree sex abuse or assault with intent to commit first degree sexual abuse. An additional 41 (14.9 percent) were classified as sex abuse allegations, which means the detective considered it unclear whether an assault occurred. The remaining eight cases were classified as other crimes.

We also compared the total number of hospital reports to MPD to the total number of PD-251s the MPD provided to us. The total number of PD-251s prepared by MPD should be significantly higher each month than the number of victims who report at the hospital. All those who reported to the MPD at the hospital should have a PD-251. In addition, the MPD’s total number of PD-251s should include victims who report a sexual assault without having a forensic exam at Washington Hospital Center, such as: victims who walk-in and report a sexual assault to the department without going to the hospital; victims who report more than 96 hours after their assault (past the window for exams); victims who report at other hospitals or are examined by their own doctors; and those who decide for one of many reasons not to get an exam at all (such as they know their assailant, do not want to undergo a lengthy invasive procedure, or do not feel it is necessary because there was no penetration). It is likely that many survivors of sexual assault in D.C. never undergo a forensic exam, even if they report the assault to the police. One study in Los Angeles showed that only half of victims who reported a sexual assault to the police in that city underwent a forensic exam. [161] Similarly, Human Rights Watch’s analysis of forensic evidence kits in Illinois over a 10-year period found that only 31 percent of reported rapes resulted in the administration of a forensic evidence kit in that state. [162] A Department of Justice document cites research finding that nationwide only 59 percent of all victims choosing to report the victimization to law enforcement receive medical treatment. [163] Based on these trends, one would expect the total number of police reports for sexual assaults to be notably greater than the number of hospital reports.

Human Rights Watch is not able to determine from publicly available information how many victims attempt to report to the police outside of the context of Washington Hospital Center. However, assuming the Washington Hospital Center data is correct, 436 victims had exams and reported to the MPD in the three-year period analyzed by Human Rights Watch (excluding 44 cases in which the victim reported to the MPD at the hospital but did not have an exam). Over the same time period, MPD has 571 incident reports (including 173 police reports showing that the victim did not go to a hospital or went to a hospital other than Washington Hospital Center that were excluded from the date comparison analysis). Even if all the hospital reports were accounted for at MPD, the number is still far lower than expected. If the national study is correct and approximately 59 percent of people who report have forensic exams, the number of MPD reports for sexual assault for that period would be expected to be approximately 739 cases.

Finally, graphing the monthly number of reports produces the surprising result that in some months the hospital recorded more sexual assault reports to the MPD than the total number of sexual assaults the MPD had documented for the same month. For example, in May 2009, the hospital reported three more sexual assault cases than the MPD documented for the entire month. In October 2009, October 2010, and May 2011, the hospital reported one more case each month than the police documented. In 4 of 36 months, the police and hospital reported the same number of assaults. Because many victims do not get exams, the police should always have more cases than the hospital. This data suggests a significant number of sexual assaults (even apart from those noted at the hospital) may not be documented at all.

In Chief Lanier’s December 20, 2012 letter responding to these findings, she indicates she has “1500 WACIIS [database] reports” for the time frame analyzed and indicates that this database is the correct basis for determining appropriateness of the police response to victims at the hospital. However, a WACIIS report alone, with no corresponding PD 251 incident report and no case number, indicates that this complaint, although received by the department, was not opened for investigation. As Assistant Chief Newsham told Human Rights Watch in a June 14, 2012 meeting, an officer would be “in trouble” for investigating a case with no case number. Because Human Rights Watch’s focus is whether cases reported to the police from victims who had sought medical treatment at Washington Hospital Center were then investigated effectively, the existence of a database entry without a case number would not affect our findings. Nonetheless, when MPD raised this objection in June 2012, as described below, Human Rights Watch undertook repeated efforts to locate cases in WACIIS that may not have had incident reports prepared. Any entry found that corresponded to a missing case was included in the analysis, even if there was no case number.

Moreover, Chief Lanier states that the MPD sent Human Rights Watch 1080 PD-251s and therefore 571 is not the appropriate number to use to estimate the total number of reported sexual assaults in D.C. Over the course of the document production, the MPD actually provided Human Rights Watch with 1358 different incident reports. However, 787 of those cases either (1) were outside of the time frame used for this analysis (317); (2) were not sexual abuse cases or involved sexual contact, often over clothing, such as groping a breast, that would not result in a forensic exam (353); or (3) were reports of juvenile offenses and therefore would not involve Washington Hospital Center or the SAU (117). These cases are therefore irrelevant for comparison to cases that did have a forensic exam. Accordingly, they were excluded from the analysis. For date comparison purposes, an additional 173 cases were excluded because the report indicated clearly that the victim did not go to the hospital or went to a hospital other than WHC.

A 2008 lawsuit filed against the MPD by a victim who attempted to report an assault (see Rachel’s box) revealed the MPD practice at the time of giving SAU detectives discretion to decide whether they should file an incident report. Police officers, supervisors, and detectives gave deposition testimony about this practice—which was inconsistent with the official policy of documenting all reports of sexual abuse. [164] A supervisor testified in 2008, “It [filing a report] is all dependent on what the sexual assault unit detective or supervisor wants to do.” [165] If the detective advises not to take a report, the officers follow their instructions. [166] An officer said a report must be taken “Only … if a sergeant or somebody demands that you take a report, then the official above the detective demands you take the report, yes, go ahead and take the report.” [167] Then, as now, police practice requires that when an officer responds to a scene of a complaint of sexual assault, he or she notifies an SAU detective. [168] The detective then decides if a report should be taken by determining whether a case is “founded” or “unfounded.” [169] “Unfounding,” as described by officers in deposition testimony, refers to decisions detectives make on the spot without investigating whether or not they will open a case. [170]

An officer explained that SAU detectives had directed him not to take a report if “they feel it’s not credible, [the complainant] can’t prove anything.” [171] A former supervisor in the SAU said that “sometimes” they investigated cases when they did not believe the complainant. [172] In cases where officers or detectives were unsure if something happened but an allegation of a sexual assault was made, a detective testified that there was no requirement for further investigation. [173]

According to depositions in the 2008 case, a decision not to write a report on an “unfounded” case of sex abuse was common at the time.[174] 

Documentation of cases seems to have improved since 2008, and it is not clear whether in practice such discretion, albeit not in keeping with official policy, is still afforded to detectives. Even if detective discretion is not an issue, the above data analysis shows that a substantial number of cases remain undocumented, raising questions about if, when, and by whom, decisions are taken not to file reports of every assault reported, despite department policy. 

Human Rights Watch has been informed that the officers involved in the 2008 lawsuit were transferred out of the SAU, and Chief Cathy Lanier informed Human Rights Watch about one patrol officer who was disciplined in 2010 for not taking a report of an assault after a victim complained. But Human Rights Watch has been unable to obtain any further information about current disciplinary measures taken against officers if they do not adhere to policies requiring reports for all incidents of sexual assault.[175]

In addition, although Human Rights Watch would have expected to see significant changes after and in response to the flawed practices revealed in the 2008 lawsuit, the experience of victims and those who work with survivors in the community and documentary evidence collected and reviewed from the Office of Victim Services and the MPD suggest that behavior reflected in the depositions persists among some detectives.

One police insider provided a possible explanation for the continuing failure to document some cases: “You get disciplined for paperwork. Thus less paper trail, less chance you have of getting in trouble.”[176]

The apparent failure of some police to adhere to policy requiring documentation of all incidents reported does not appear to be linked to a shortage of staff. According to a February 2012 letter from the MPD, the SAU (referred to as the “Sex Squad”) detectives had 23 cases each in calendar year 2010 and the “ideal case load” per detective is three monthly, or 36 per calendar year. [177] Other police departments (in Florida and Oregon) report an average caseload of at least 54 to 96 sexual assault or major crimes per year per detective. [178]

On June 8, 2012, the date of the MPD’s response to Human Rights Watch’s letter, the MPD issued a reminder to police to document all complaints of sexual assault. [179]

Timeline of Human Rights Watch Documentation Requests and MPD Responses

On April 20, 2011, as part of its records request, Human Rights Watch asked the MPD for all PD-251s for adult sexual assault cases and “allegations” (complaints of sexual abuse that an SAU member, after preliminary investigation, determines lack the criteria to be considered sexual abuse) from January 1, 2008 to 2011. We received partial responses to this request in August and December of 2011 and, after repeated follow-up requests, a supplemental response in April 2012.

On May 30, 2012, Human Rights Watch informed the MPD that it was unable to locate incident reports for a significant number of cases in which the victim had gone to WHC for a forensic exam and reported their assault to the MPD.

Between May 31 and June 8, Human Rights Watch received an extensive production of all PD-251s for sex abuse cases from the MPD. Many were duplicates of the previous production. Human Rights Watch incorporated the new PD-251s into its data analysis. 

On June 14, Human Rights Watch met with Chief Cathy Lanier, Assistant Chief Peter Newsham, and Sergeant Ronald Reid and shared the results of the revised data analysis with them. Even after including the new PD-251s in the analysis, Human Rights Watch could not find police reports corresponding to 149 WHC cases recorded as reporting sexual assaults to the MPD over a three-year period. At that time, Chief Lanier offered to allow Human Rights Watch to view MPD’s internal database (the WACIIS) in order to locate missing cases, as some cases (“miscellaneous” cases, “office information” cases, or cases that also included another crime such as burglary) may not have been classified in the system as sex abuse cases and thus may have fallen outside the scope of our document request.

On June 19, senior Human Rights Watch staff went to the MPD to examine entries to the WACIIS database to try to identify possible missing cases with MPD members. At that time, Human Rights Watch provided the MPD with a list of the 149 dates for which documentation of hospital cases was missing. The MPD agreed to send incident reports for any case that might correspond with cases for which we were missing documentation.

On June 22, Human Rights Watch sent the MPD a list of case numbers that we believed might correspond to missing hospital reports. We developed the list based on notes from our June 19 review of the WACIIS database with the MPD.

On June 22, July 5, and July 19, Human Rights Watch received additional productions of incident reports and documents from the MPD. These documents completed the MPD’s production of reports resulting from the June 19 database review and included a small number of incident reports previously excluded because they had been illegible.

On July 20, Human Rights Watch’s counsel sent MPD a list of 34 cases produced by MPD that did not appear linked to a hospital report to see if internal records indicated a hospital visit not apparent on the cover sheet. MPD agreed to allow Human Rights Watch to review those 34 case files as part of the August investigative file review process resulting from the settlement agreement. 

From August 21 through August 23, 3 Human Rights Watch staff members reviewed 148 case files from the WACIIS database in addition to 25 of the 34 cases mentioned above (8 cases were not in WACIIS and were not relevant to the analysis). Human Rights Watch agreed to take handwritten notes on the files and was not allowed to remove documentation from the office. Human Rights Watch agreed to keep the names of victims, witnesses, and suspects confidential. The cases reviewed included cases about which Human Rights Watch had questions, as well as cases in which Human Rights Watch had interviewed the victim. In addition, Human Rights Watch randomly selected a number of cases representing different sex abuse charges. The settlement agreement also provided Human Right Watch the opportunity to review 88 sex abuse case files from 2009 to 2011 that were in the WACIIS database but had not been assigned case numbers and thus did not have incident reports.

Human Rights Watch was able to determine from reviewing files whether or not the victim had a forensic exam at Washington Hospital Center. We therefore included in the data analysis those cases in which the victim did have an exam, regardless of whether they were classified as sex abuse cases or assigned case numbers. In addition, Human Rights Watch discovered that some cases that had previously been credited as police report matches to hospital reports because of the report date were not, in fact, linked to a hospital report. Accordingly, we corrected those classifications in the final data analysis.[180]

Human Rights Watch also received case cover sheets from the 148 selected cases. In some cases, the cover sheets showed that the police had picked up a forensic exam indicating that the victim went to WHC. We cross-referenced that information with the data used for the analysis of missing cases, though the cover sheets were not always comprehensive so notes from the file were considered authoritative if they indicated the victim went to WHC, even if the cover sheet did not record picking up the forensic exam.

On September 6, Human Rights Watch informed the MPD that it was Human Rights Watch’s understanding that we had all the relevant documents. The MPD provided no further documentation of incident reports to Human Rights Watch.

On December 6, 2012, Human Rights Watch informed the MPD of the results of the third data analysis and provided the department with an opportunity to respond to its findings. On December 20, 2012, the MPD responded to the revised finding.

Rachel G.’s Lawsuit Against the MPD

In 2008, Rachel G. commenced a lawsuit against the Metropolitan Police Department over the MPD’s treatment of her when she reported a potential sexual assault in December 2006. At the time, Rachel was a 19-year-old college student, who had attended an off-campus party with a few friends.

When the lights came on after dancing, Rachel’s friends noticed that she and the person who had been dancing with her aggressively were gone. After calling Rachel’s cell phone and searching for her unsuccessfully, Rachel’s friends convinced a man providing security during the party and blocking people from going upstairs to look for her.

Eventually, Rachel appeared at the top of the steps looking “out of it” and barely able to walk. She began vomiting profusely. Rachel said that someone had touched her while she was upstairs. Concerned that she had been drugged and raped, her friends took her to the hospital where staff told her to sleep it off and return the next day.

The next day Rachel woke up with pain in her rectum and hip and returned to the hospital, where she reported her assault to the police. The responding uniformed officer took down some information and then called an SAU detective who spent “two or three minutes, if that” on the phone with her.[181] During the course of litigation, the detective testified, “She told me that she was at a party. And she remembered kissing a guy.... I repeated back to her what she said to me. And there was a pause.” The detective said he told the officer on scene, “This young lady, she’s not reporting anything, she’s not reporting a crime to me. I’m not bringing a sex kit up here.”[182]

The detective did not ask for details about what happened or why Rachel wanted a forensic exam if what she was reporting was that she just kissed someone.[183] Later, Rachel testified in her deposition that she told the detective she had been raped, but he informed her that “I would not be able to receive a sex kit because I do not know the person[’s] … last name.” The responding officer left without filing a report.[184] The detective did not bring a rape kit to the hospital.

When Rachel’s sister arrived at the hospital she could not understand why a report was not made. She called 911 twice and waited for more than an hour before two officers came. Rachel testified that the responding officers questioned her as if she were lying. “[They] were barking at me,” she said. “They did nothing … to help me or to even try to make me feel like they would help me.”[185]

Rachel’s sister also testified that the officers were “short and rude” and “I was trying just to ask them some simple questions about the procedure…. I was told … that they were no longer going to answer any questions from me.… I felt like if I was going to ask more questions [that] they were going to, like, try to detain me.… And I didn’t want any trouble with the police.”[186]

When the officers called the SAU, the detective on duty (who consulted with his supervisor) told them that no investigation would be opened and no forensic exam authorized. [187] The detective told his supervisor that Rachel was “making up stories to the uniform officer so the sex kit can be performed.”[188] The supervisor determined, based on statements from the complainant as relayed by the responding officer to the detective, that no crime was committed so there was no need to begin an investigation or for the detective to interview the complainant personally.[189]The unit supervisor later reiterated that his decision was correct, testifying, “blacking out is not a crime.”[190] The officers did write a “miscellaneous” report, which the SAU supervisor testified was meant to “cover” them.[191]The report reads:

C1 [the complainant] reported to both officers on the scene she attended a house party at the listed location and doesn’t know if anything happened to her. C1 reports she blacked out. C1 was informed that a report could not be taken based on the statement she thinks something happened. Then C1 stated she went into the bathroom and a guy followed her in there and touched her breast and private parts and then she blacked out. C1 was asked what do you mean by private parts and C1 stated her rectum hurts. C1 stated she went from one extreme to another so someone had to put something in her drink, then C1 changed her story and said ‘I was drunk.’ C1 was then advised that in order to take a report, I have [to] have something concrete and not have any guesses. C1 then said she only wanted to have a sex kit done to see if anything happened….[192]

After nearly a full day of waiting for an exam at the first hospital, Rachel left and sought medical care at another hospital having still not showered, gone to the bathroom, or had much to eat, as the hospital had advised. 

After waiting uncomfortably for hours at the other hospital, Rachel was told she could not get a forensic exam because she had been denied one earlier by the primary SANE provider in the area and because the police had already ruled it out. Rachel also talked to another SAU detective who informed her she could not help because her case was closed.[193] The next day Rachel tried to get a forensic exam in Maryland, but was turned away because the assault had occurred in the District of Columbia.

Rachel and her family complained to the MPD about how she was treated by responding officers. Despite the civilian complaint, supervisors did not question the officers about the incident, discipline them, or speak with them about the decision not to take a report.[194]The department did not sustain the complaint and the incident did not go on the officers’ records.[195] 

Chief Lanier informed Human Rights Watch that she did transfer some detectives involved in this case out of the SAU at the end of 2008. Policy changes have since made it clear that police authorization is not required for a forensic exam.

Rachel’s suit against the MPD was dismissed in August 2010 under the public duty doctrine, which gives police immunity from civil lawsuits. In granting the police motion, the court noted, “Unfortunately, this is not the first instance where the MPD is accused of acting with regrettable indifference to potential crime victims.”[196]Rachel has appealed the dismissal. A lawsuit that Rachel also filed against the hospitals is pending.

Stopping the Investigation Before it Begins

Investigators serve as prosecutor, judge, and jury and stop the process before it begins.
—R.T., experienced community service provider to sexual assault victims, Washington, D.C., February 16, 2011
I was shocked to hear that under Sharia law, a rape victim has to have four witnesses to the rape in order to have her case prosecuted. Then I realized it was not so different in D.C. because the standard seems so high for cases to move forward.
—L.O., university counselor, Washington, D.C., March 28, 2011

Police use a variety of mechanisms to shut down the possibility of further investigation of cases they do not deem credible. Our review of police investigative files confirmed witness observations that police consider a number of cases “unfounded” as early as the initial interview with the complainant. Some of these cases may not be documented at all. Other sex abuse cases may fall through the cracks if they are classified as a non-sex offense or as a less serious crime. 

A number of sex abuse cases that Human Rights Watch examined were considered “office information” or “miscellaneous” cases, which means they were closed without investigation. In addition, several MPD cases were categorized as crimes other than sex offenses or were considered “misdemeanors,” although they appear to be more serious sex abuse cases. Some victims raised questions about their cases being classified as a non-sex abuse case or a “miscellaneous” case despite their complaint of sexual assault. The reason for the classification is unclear in the files and raises questions regarding the effectiveness of review. 

“Reported and Sex Crimes Closing”

The practice of closing the case immediately after an initial interview is particularly troubling because the victim is frequently traumatized during the initial interview (particularly if it immediately follows the assault) and therefore may not be able to concentrate or respond rationally.[197]

Inconsistencies in statements are a foreseeable symptom of trauma, yet one officer testified in 2008 that a decision not to take a report may be based on the victim’s changing of his or her story after speaking with the responding officers. [198] Police investigative files from 2009 through 2011 show a similar reluctance to investigate cases when a victim statement contains inconsistencies (this is discussed further in section IV, on police treatment of victims). [199]

The police practice of deciding not to investigate a case after speaking to a victim at the hospital has been sufficiently common that the “exam exemption” forms nurses at WHC use to document cases in which the victim has decided not to get an exam include an option for nurses to check that reads: “Reported and sex crimes not investigating,” or “Reported and sex crimes closing,” or “Reported and sex crimes investigating/not investigating.” [200] A number of entries in the hospital log and on these forms for the years 2009 through 2011 indicate that the patient reported but the police were not investigating. [201] In some cases in which it was unclear whether or not a victim was assaulted, police files indicate recommending unfounding the case for lack of corroborating evidence before even picking up the forensic exam from the hospital, though the exam could possibly shed light on the question of whether or not a sexual assault occurred. [202]

Other indicia that police still repeatedly make decisions not to investigate reports appear in meeting minutes. Notes from an April 2009 SART meeting indicate frustration by nurses that, “Often they do not know why the MPD has decided not to investigate a case.” And both police and nurses “are concerned about what to do in cases where MPD has decided not to investigate further and the victim still wants an exam. This kit isn’t a non-report because it is associated with a [complaint], but MPD is not planning to pursue the case.” [203]

The SANE director from July 2008 to December 2009 described the practice that she witnessed as the detectives trying to determine on the spot if it was a case they could win. [204] Some observers who have seen officers respond to sexual assault victims since 2008 also believe that some detectives act as if the burden of proof is higher for victims who are not injured or hysterical. [205] In their experience, they also believe that cases of digital or oral penetration are taken less seriously. [206]

“This is not ‘miscellaneous.’ THIS IS RAPE!” [207]

In April 2011, Maya T., a 37-year-old woman visiting D.C. from Virginia, reported being abducted and locked in a small room with nothing but a bucket to use as a toilet for three days. During that time, two men raped and sodomized her. While in captivity, she found a cell phone and managed to call 911. The fire department had to break down a door, padlocked from the outside, to reach her. An ambulance took Maya to the hospital where two SAU detectives met her.

Though she was feeling drugged and unwell, the detectives demanded a detailed timeline of what happened at the hospital. When she had difficulty responding, a detective told her she was “wasting their time” and “lying.” He asked her if she “knew what penalty a false report brought” and said that he “didn’t even want to file it.” [208] He said the suspects told different stories from hers and that “no one would believe” her.

 The other detective made a number of insulting remarks to Maya during the interview, commenting on her ability to speak Spanish and her body and implying that she wanted to return to the place where she was assaulted because her assailant was bringing her food. After the interview, the detectives did not open an investigation but instead filed a “miscellaneous” report or “office information.” [209]

Maya tried to contact the detective to give a statement two days later, when she felt more stable, but he refused to hear it. He said that her case was a “miscellaneous report” and that she had “had consensual sex” with the men. He refused her effort to turn over physical evidence (the suspect’s cell phone, which she used to make the call). When she asked about her forensic exam, the detective said, “Rape kit? What rape kit?” [210]

A review of the investigative file indicated that Maya’s impression that the police took the suspects at their word was correct. The initial report did not include much of Maya’s account of what happened but rather indicated she was kept in a locked room with her consent (the suspect indicated that they both locked the door from the inside and out because the landlord would charge extra rent if he saw her).

The notes indicate Maya called the police when she “felt caged in.” It said Maya “could not keep her story straight” and that she “had been having consensual intercourse with this guy and that he had been feeding her” and that “she did not scream or holler.” (The report also noted, however, that she was found “yelling” from upstairs and informed officers on the scene that she had been forced to have sex against her will for the last three days). The detective closed the case as unfounded at the time of his interview with Maya. [211]

The MPD investigated the case only after Maya hired an attorney to follow up and complain about how she was treated. Further investigation revealed information consistent with Maya’s account (the suspects confirmed she was left in a room with only a bucket as a toilet and had little or no food during her stay, only alcohol, and there was no inside doorknob for her to “lock herself in;” the 911 call transcript indicated she reported being kidnapped, raped, and possibly drugged). The case stalled when detectives refused to allow Maya to have her lawyer with her for a photo line-up “in order to keep the process pure.” [212] Senior prosecutors interviewed for this report knew of no policy or reason preventing a victim’s lawyer from being present for a photo line-up. [213]

 “Office Information” Cases

Human Rights Watch found that for a number of cases in which a victim reported a sexual assault to the police, the complaint was taken as “office information.” (Police sometimes further classify these cases as “miscellaneous” or “sick [or injured] person to hospital” but they still fall under the general broad category of cases documented only for “office information”).

Under the MPD guidelines, a complaint of sexual abuse can be deemed an office information after preliminary investigation by a member of the Sexual Assault Unit, when it involves any of the following: “an arrest of a sex offender in another jurisdiction; a report of an offense that occurred in another jurisdiction (information that can possibly be used in the future); sexual activity that is not a crime; and no crime was deemed to have occurred.”[214] An incident report is supposed to be prepared for these cases, even if the crime occurred in another jurisdiction but the victim went to a hospital in the District of Columbia. However, these cases are “closed by definition.” If further investigation is needed, it “should be classified as an ‘allegation’ and handled accordingly.”[215]

In Rachel G.’s case, for example, a responding officer testified that a miscellaneous (office information) report was filed in her case because “it was determined that no sexual assault took place,”[216] and that the report was meant to “cover” the officers.[217] In other cases, “office information” is used when the victim does not wish to report a crime at the time. In our data analysis, Human Rights Watch found five “office information” cases that matched cases at the hospital in which victims had a forensic exam but chose not to report their assault to the police at the time (“non-reports”). However, 34 cases in which the victim did report at the hospital fell into the “office information” category. 

Overall, Human Rights Watch reviewed a total of 125 sex abuse cases documented as “office information” between 2009 and 2011, including 82 cases in MPD’s database that were classified as “office information” for which no case number was assigned and no incident report (PD-251) prepared, contrary to internal guidelines. In most office information cases Human Rights Watch reviewed, the information in the file was limited to detective notes from the initial interview with the complainant, but in a few instances the file contained additional interviews or investigation.

If officers believe that there is not enough information to substantiate filing an incident as a sex crime case (an SX case) they can file a sexual abuse “allegation” (an SA case) rather than an office information. An allegation “is a complaint of sexual abuse when… after preliminary investigation by an SAU member, a determination is reached that the investigation lacks the criteria of a sexual abuse offense.”[218] An allegation is supposed to be investigated until it is upgraded to a case, closed as “unfounded,” or until investigative leads have been exhausted.[219] Cases might be considered allegations in MPD’s Standard Operation Procedures, among other situations, when there are inconsistencies that require follow up, or when the complainant: provides contradictory statements, had sex but is unsure if a crime occurred, is unresponsive, is too intoxicated to talk, or is referred from another jurisdiction.[220] Such categorization is appropriate if it is tracked and carefully reviewed by a well-trained supervisor who can ensure there is follow-up victim contact.[221]

While a number of reports reviewed by Human Rights Watch were classified appropriately, other sexual assault cases outside of the official “office information” categories were still classified as “miscellaneous” or “sick person to hospital” and for “office information” only. In these cases, minimal, if any, investigation was done. 

For example, in the following cases a victim reported a sexual assault but the detective notes indicate the victim was too intoxicated to be interviewed at the hospital. Although police policy indicates that a case in which a complainant is too intoxicated to talk or is unresponsive at the time of the report is to be considered an allegation until it is investigated further, these cases were listed as office information cases and from examining the documentation, it would appear as if no follow up was done. In some of these cases, no case number was assigned and no incident report was prepared:

  • An April 2009 case in which the complainant reported that the subject tried to rape her but did not say how. The complainant was under the influence and had to be woken with an ammonia capsule to be interviewed at the hospital. The case was filed as “office information” because “The complainant did not report a sexual assault.” The police file contained no indication of follow-up.[222]
  • A May 2009 case in which the complainant was found intoxicated on the sidewalk stating she was raped. She was “highly intoxicated” at the time of the interview. The report indicates “follow up: None,” even though the complainant was taken to the hospital. [223]
  • An October 2011 case in which the victim was still intoxicated and refused to talk when detectives interviewed her at the hospital. The file notes that after providing basic information about her rape, the victim walked out of the quiet room (the designated room at WHC where detective’s interviews take place). A rape kit was completed, but the case was listed as “miscellaneous” and there is no indication of follow-up in the report. [224]
  • An April 2009 case in which notes indicate that “throughout the interview the complainant was slurring her speech and falling asleep. The complainant appeared to be under the influence … she was unable to focus on the interview and continued to fall asleep.” Yet no indication of an additional interview when the complainant was coherent appears in the file. The case was not assigned a case number. [225]

As in Rachel G.’s case, a number of the cases Human Rights Watch reviewed that were assigned to the category of cases “closed by definition” involved drug or alcohol use.

Misclassification is also problematic because, since “office information” or “miscellaneous” reports (unlike allegations) are not considered sexual assault cases, the MPD takes no precaution to hide the victim’s name. Publicly available incident reports initially provided to Human Rights Watch in response to its public records request included personal information for victims in some of the cases listed below. [226] This raises serious concerns about victim privacy. In addition, until June 2012, police did not refer victims of cases considered allegations or office information to an MPD’s victim specialist for support services.

The following are some of the office information cases Human Rights Watch reviewed (we describe more in the section on drug or alcohol facilitated assaults below):

  • An early 2010 case in which a student reported that she was forced to orally copulate a stranger in an alley after a night of drinking. No investigation was done apart from a victim interview, but the detective’s internal report concludes, “There is nothing to corroborate the complainant’s alleged allegations.” The document review indicates that the detective did not prepare an incident report or assign the report a case number. The victim had a forensic exam, but there is no indication of follow-up on possible forensic evidence. [227]
  • A May 2010 case in which the complainant was intoxicated and outside a club when a suspect told her if she did not go with him she would be raped. He then took her in a car with a group of four other men who called her friends and told them they would rape her if they did not come and get her. The subject then called another friend of the complainant and told her the complainant was being raped at the time. The victim was taken to the hospital by ambulance after police were contacted. An SAU detective met her and her friends there. She was still intoxicated and did not recall details of what happened to her in the car. For follow up, the detective notes say, “[Complainant] was provided with a business card and was advised that a record of the interview would be made [sic] in the department’s database.” The case was classified as “office information.” The file contains no indication of further investigation, follow up, or of results from the forensic exam, until nine months later (March 2011) when a supervisor recommended that the case be reopened. [228]
  • The case of Maya T. (see text box) whom the fire department rescued in April 2011 from a room that was padlocked from the outside. Police did not open an investigation at the time but instead filed a “miscellaneous” report that read, “C-1 reports she was locked in a room for three days and made to have sexual intercourse. Investigation revealed that C-1 had agreed to stay in the room until the residence [sic] returned home from work and the sex was consensual.” Maya’s name and address are on the report.[229] In addition, the detective closed the case as “unfounded” at the time of the report.[230]
  • A February 2011 case in which the victim was highly intoxicated and throwing up at a party. Afterwards, her dress was on inside out and her panties and pantyhose were off. The complainant had a forensic exam but the detective notes the “kit was turned over to mobil [sic] crime as no case.”[231] It was classified as “miscellaneous.”
  • A PD-251 describes a victim who reported a sexual assault but was in and out of consciousness and unable to provide details. Her name, address, and phone number appear on the publicly available report.[232]
  • A PD-251 in which the complainant reports she went to a party, got drunk, and went to sleep. When she woke up she felt she had been vaginally penetrated and also believed “she received oral sex while a pillow was being pressed against her face.” Her personal information is on the PD-251.[233]
  • An October 2011 miscellaneous report in which the complainant reports that “an unknown male (S-1) ‘pulled his penis out and shoved it in vaginally.’” [234] The victim’s identifying information is on the event report.
  • An October 2010 miscellaneous report from a victim who went to the hospital for a forensic exam after a night drinking at a club. The form indicates, “An incident report is needed because R-1 [the complainant] responded to WHC on her own and completed a sex kit.” [235] Her identifying information appears on the incident report.

In only one of the above cases was there an indication in the database that a supervisor requested additional investigation from the detective. Of 88 sex abuse cases between 2009 and 2011 that Human Rights Watch reviewed that were not assigned case numbers at all, the database file noted supervisor review for only 4 cases, though it is possible that review took place and was not noted in the police database. Of 43 office information case files reviewed by Human Rights Watch that had case numbers assigned to them, only 11 had indications of supervisor review. Five of those were in relation to warrant requests, four of which were rejected.[236]

Even cases that are documented as “allegations” sometimes languish without investigation. For example:

  • In late 2011, after consuming a “double shot” of alcohol, a victim reported waking up to find an unknown male engaging in vaginal intercourse with her. She did not know where she was but was able to take a taxi to the hospital for a forensic exam. According to police notes, the victim had bruises on her face, a laceration on her upper lip, and pain in her vaginal area. The victim had no recollection of the evening’s events after leaving a nightclub and was not able to indicate where the assault took place. The detective wrote, “At this time this is an allegation solely due to the fact there is DNA that will be transported to the forensic lab where a case number is needed for processing.” Although the detective suggested follow-up at the nightclub and at the hospital, nine months after the assault the file contained no indication of any investigation after the initial statement. [237]
  • A case in the spring of 2011 in which the complainant said he was drugged and assaulted. The allegation was initially listed as “pending SANE results” but the kit was not located and sent for testing for several months. In addition, there was no indication of investigation until “the undersigned investigator received a phone call from the Gay and Lesbian Liaison Unit. Officer stated she received a complaint about how his case was being handled. C stated nothing had happened on his case” and requested a female detective. Six months later the complainant went to the police department and provided a statement about the assault. In March 2012 the assistant US attorney sent a warrant request back for corrections. [238]
  • A January 2009 case in which the victim reports that after drinking with a friend and consensually kissing in his room, the suspect became forceful and inserted his penis into her vagina against her will. The police viewed surveillance video but because of a time discrepancy between when the victim reported she was assaulted and when she swiped her card to enter her dorm, the detectives seemed to lose interest in the investigation. After the forensic exam kit was turned over to the lab (ten days after the exam), there is no indication of any investigation. Even though the victim was “adamant” that the assault took place, it is listed as an allegation. [239]

In her December 20, 2012 response to our December letter informing the MPD of our findings with regard to office information cases, Chief Lanier indicated that our analysis reflected a “complete misunderstanding” and that,

In the past these classifications were used for cases where the preliminary investigation did not reveal enough elements of a crime in the District of Columbia. A few examples of such cases would include cases where the victim cannot remember details of the offense, other evidence (video) or witness statements indicate the offense did not occur, or the offense occurred in another jurisdiction. Human Rights Watch also failed to mention that because of suggestions from HRW, MPD changed this reporting procedure, and that public reports are taken on all cases and they are classified as either a sexual allegation or a sexual abuse case.[240]

This description is grossly misleading. The definition of “office information” used by Human Rights Watch was taken from the MPD SAU’s own Standard Operating Procedures, which continue to govern SAU investigations. [241] The Standard Operating Procedures indicate that “office information” cases are “closed by definition” and used when “no crime was deemed to have occurred.” While crimes occurring in other jurisdictions are properly categorized as “office information” under MPD’s guidelines, any case in which “further investigation is needed”— including a case in which the victim is unsure if a crime occurred— is supposed to be classified as an allegation. After investigation, if it is determined that no crime occurred, it will be closed as “unfounded.” Thus, apart from cases occurring in other jurisdictions, the situations described by Chief Lanier, under her procedure and policies, would properly be classified as allegations. The new policies that have come out since informing the MPD of our findings on May 30, 2012, make no reference to the use of “office information” and are consistent with the Standard Operating Procedures.

Eleanor G.

Discounting a sexual assault may negatively impact a victim’s recovery and ultimately undermine faith in the law enforcement, as was the case for Eleanor G. On May 29, 2011, Eleanor was walking home late at night when she noticed a strange man walking behind her. He made her nervous so she typed “911” into her cell phone. As she was walking past an alley about to cross the street, her assailant grabbed her from behind. He said “If you scream, I will kill you. Give me your money and anything else I want.” 

When she put her hands up in a gesture of compliance, his box cutter dug deeply into the palm of her hand. Eleanor fell to the ground. He was on the ground behind her with one arm around her waist and the box cutter at her throat. He insisted she get up and go into the alley. She begged him to take her purse and money and let her go, but he refused. 

Eleanor even offered to go to an ATM to get him cash rather than go into the alley. He still insisted that she go into the alley with him and when she refused he pressed the box cutter harder into her throat and then “he started to count down from five.” At that point, she was bleeding profusely and felt she had no choice but to go into the alley. Once in the alley, he pushed her against the wall and tried to turn her to face him. Eleanor said,

It’s very clear to me that it was an attempted sexual assault. He ripped my dress. He forced me into an alley. He wouldn’t take my money … I don’t understand what possible explanation there could be if it was only a robbery.

When her assailant removed the box cutter from her throat in order to turn her to face him, Eleanor was able to grab his wrist and disarm him. Her assailant hit her in the back of her head but she was able to scream for help. A neighbor ran into the alley when he heard Eleanor’s cry of “Rape!” and her assailant fled. Another woman who heard Eleanor’s scream called 911 and police arrived on the scene shortly thereafter and transported her to a hospital. 

Eleanor was grateful that an officer stayed with her while she was alone at the hospital, but she was later shocked to find her case was categorized as a “robbery w/armed.” [242] It was not classified as an attempted sexual abuse, though Eleanor repeatedly told both police officers on the scene and the detective she spoke with later that it was an attempted rape. [243] She attempted to change the classification of her report on more than one occasion but failed. [244] The police kept saying, “Well, but he didn’t rape you.” [245]

Eleanor wrote to Chief Lanier about her experience and described her rage about this misclassification given how clear she was in her communications with detectives and officers about her assault. A few weeks later, an officer called her at work. During the call he referred to her assault as “an incident” and told her “sometimes we think we‘re experiencing something but it isn’t necessarily what we think.” The call was very upsetting for Eleanor:

All he kept saying was ‘the incident,’ ‘the incident.’… For them it’s just an incident. But for me, I was stabbed three times. For me, I felt like I had to pick being between being killed or being raped. It’s not just an incident. [246]

The investigative file for the case, which Human Rights Watch reviewed, does not reference an attempted rape at all. The witness who responded after hearing Eleanor cry “rape” was never interviewed. [247] Eleanor felt that the minimization of her experience by the MPD “caused me more victimization than the actual perpetrator of the crime committed against me.” [248] She felt,

They just didn’t listen to me, they made me feel completely ashamed of myself, they made me feel like I was lying or like I was too stupid to understand what happened to me, that I was trying to make something a big deal that wasn’t that big of a deal…. My police interaction made my recovery much harder…. To me, it feels like they’re saying it didn’t happen at all because of the omission … they just don’t believe what I was saying and that to me is … the worst thing because ... I know that they’re not going to catch him. [249]
She said she has lost faith in law enforcement and when she looks at police reports, “I don’t know when to believe them. I know I should report a crime, but honestly, if I had to go through that again, I’m not sure I would.” [250]

It’s possible that the police officer who took the report thought that there would be insufficient evidence to charge the case as an attempted rape. Yet that is a decision for prosecutors, not police. Not classifying the case as an attempted sexual abuse case (or even as an allegation) meant that the SAU did not investigate her case and that Eleanor was not referred to a victim specialist; a potential rapist may also have been permitted to walk the streets undetected. The following January, another woman was sexually assaulted at gunpoint in the same alley. [251]

Omitting Sex Offenses

Because detectives put the offense with the most severe penalty first on the incident report, sexual assault cases may sometimes be listed as a second offense after burglary or another crime. However, in some cases, victims reported sexual assaults or attempted sexual assaults, but their crimes were categorized as some other type of crime and either not referred to the SAU at all or not investigated by the SAU as a sexual assault.  

For example, an exam exemption report notes a case of a woman who in September 2010 was pushed into her apartment by a stranger when she tried to open the door. Her assailant threw her onto the bed, ripped her dress off, and lowered her leggings. The woman urinated on herself in fear and the suspect threw her against a wall but did not continue with the sexual assault. According to a hospital report, the MPD investigated the case as a simple assault and burglary rather than an attempted rape.[252]

A lawyer described how a close friend in D.C. was woken in her apartment in the summer of 2011 at about 5 a.m. by a stranger holding her down in her bed with what the assailant said was a knife. He said he was going to rape her but she screamed and succeeded in fighting him off before he managed to do so. Police refused to write up the report as an attempted rape and were described by the victim to her friend as “incredibly rude.” The MPD classified the incident as a burglary only.[253]

A witness at the hospital reported seeing a case in which the victim’s rectum was cut with a knife, but the case was marked as a physical assault only.[254] An October 2009 case in which the victim was handcuffed and driven to an undisclosed location and sexually assaulted was categorized only as “kidnapping.”[255]

In other cases, the misclassification of a case may result from misunderstanding the law. The D.C. Code defines a sexual act in part as, “the penetration, however slight, of the anus or vulva by a hand or finger or by any object, with an intent to abuse, humiliate, harass, degrade, or arouse or gratify the sexual desire of any person[256] (emphasis added).

However, in some cases detectives deemed penetration not to be a sexual act because they did not think the penetration was committed for sexual gratification. Concerned medical staff reported the following exchange to the Office of Victim Services in April 2011:

[Patient(Pt.)] stated that she was vaginally and possibly anally assaulted by two men who had broke into her fiancee’s house and that she had been hit in the head several times and lost consciousness. She wanted to report and have an exam completed. She was also two months pregnant. [After meeting with detectives, the patient decided not to have an exam].

A sergeant asked to look into the matter said he was aware of the incident and that it was not a sex crimes case. Asked why he concluded this, the sergeant told the staff member, “There was no intent for sexual pleasure or gratification.”[257] The medical staff member said,

I explained to him that I didn’t believe sexual gratification needed to be proven, that it was various things such as harassment, degradations, humiliation. He specifically told me ‘No, it must be for gratification.’[258]

In some cases it is also unclear why a case is classified as an allegation rather than a sex abuse case. For example, an April 2011 report for a victim with a stab wound stated,

She was given a ride by a ‘courtesy driver’ from the Giant Food Store … with her groceries. V-1 alleged that the driver then, against her will, took her to an unknown location, where the driver and another unknown subject tied her up with duct tape and forced her to have sex for three days.

The victim stated “she escaped from the location she was held, ran into the street and flagged down a vehicle” that drove her to the hospital. The victim was the subject of a missing person report. “It was determined by the sex branch investigators that no criminal report would be taken until further investigation.”[259] It is unclear why the case was not initially investigated as a sexual assault case, or whether it was reclassified. 

The June 12, 2012 MPD memorandum now requires including an additional classification of “sexual abuse” or “sexual allegation” in all incident reports involving sexual assaults and articulating the offense in the narrative section, even if the primary offense documented is a different crime.[260]

“Misdemeanors”

In the District of Columbia, “misdemeanor sex abuse” (punishable by not more than 180 days imprisonment and a fine not to exceed $1,000) is defined as “whoever engages in a sexual act or sexual contact with another person and who should have knowledge or reason to know that the act was committed without that other person’s permission.”[261] Therefore sexual acts, including oral, vaginal, and anal penetration, which are not committed on an incapacitated victim or forcibly, may technically be misdemeanors (along with groping cases) under D.C. law, though prosecutors interviewed for this report indicate that would be unusual and that force is not difficult to prove.[262] 

Police consider a “misdemeanor” an “upgrade” from an “allegation.” In two cases in which the victims were intoxicated and did not recall details of the assault, detectives recommended “upgrades” to misdemeanors from allegations after confirmation that a sexual act took place.[263]

When reviewing police documents, Human Rights Watch found multiple cases classified as misdemeanors despite descriptions on incident reports that seem to meet criteria for more serious sex offenses.

According to a letter from the MPD,

Initial sexual abuse reports, like any other police report, are often completed in the infancy stages of an investigation. The reporting member can only report on the facts that are available at the time of the report. If more facts become available, there is a process for reclassifying the report, and MPD frequently reclassifies reports when more information becomes available.[264]

Incident reports are reviewed by the reporting officer’s supervisor, or if an SAU detective prepared the incident report, a sergeant in the SAU. All reports are also subject to additional staff review. Modifications to classifications can now be made electronically.

Human Rights Watch compared misdemeanor reports that seemed wrongly categorized to first and second degree sexual abuse cases, and to allegations of sexual abuse and attempted sexual assault, provided by the Metropolitan Police Department in June 2012, to see if the misdemeanor reports had been reclassified. In two cases, we found misdemeanors that had been reclassified as first degree sexual abuse cases. However, the following cases were classified as misdemeanors, despite facts available at the time of the report that indicate a more serious offense. Their investigative files (which Human Rights Watch reviewed in late August 2012) contained no indication of reclassification:

  • A case in which the complainant reported that while walking on the street the suspect threw her to the ground, ripped off her underwear, pulled down his pants, made contact with her vagina (without penetration) and attempted to hold his hand over her mouth before fleeing. [265]
  • A case in which the complainant stated the suspect placed his middle finger inside of her vagina without her permission. [266] Detective notes indicate the complainant “didn’t tell him to stop because she was scared.” [267]
  • A case in which the complainant states that the suspect continued to “get things going again” after the complainant told him she did not want to go any further and that he “placed his penis into the complainant’s vagina against her will.” [268]
  • One incident report reads, “The complainant states that the suspect penetrated her vagina several times with his penis without her consent. The suspect then left the room. When the suspect returned, he slapped the complainant in the face and pushed her down on a mattress. The suspect then penetrated the complainant’s vagina with his penis again without her consent. The assault ended when the suspect masturbated on the complainant’s face and in her mouth.” [269] Investigative notes from the report further indicate that the complainant tried to escape but was slapped and raped again. [270]
  • A case in which the complainant disclosed “that while she was extremely intoxicated the Suspect had sexual intercourse with her (penis to vulva) without her consent. The complainant advised that due to her level of intoxication she was not able to say no, however, the sexual act was not wanted.” [271] The investigative file also notes that the suspect attempted forced oral contact and ejaculated on the victim’s face. The victim screamed after the assault and had a forensic exam. [272]
  • A case in which the complainant disclosed that the suspect, her supervisor, “enticed her to perform fellatio on him” over a period of months. She believed she would lose her job if she did not perform the sex acts. [273]
  • A case in which the complainant reports that while engaged in sexual intercourse with her boyfriend, he switched places with the suspect without her knowledge. [274]
  • A case in which the complainant allowed the suspect to sleep on her couch. The complainant “advised she woke up about 7am to find S-1 on top of her engaging her in sex.” [275]
  • A case in which the police note that the suspect “entered the apartment by an unknown manner and surprised [the complainant], standing in her bedroom in just his boxer-style underwear and a t-shirt. S-1 [the subject] proceeded to get on top of her while she was laying in the bed. C-1 shouted how in the hell did you get in here, get off of me. S-1 ignored her pleas and began to fondle her breast with his hands underneath her, while sucking on her neck causing a (HICKEY type BRUISE). C-1 still struggling with S-1 continued to shout at S-1 to stop when he proceeded to remove her panties. At that time C-1 shouted at S-1 that I am on my period. S-1 continued to pull down C-1’s panties, looked at her vagina and stopped. C-1 got dressed and then left. No threats or verbal responses were reported by C-1 from S-1.” The case was listed as a burglary and a misdemeanor sex abuse, not attempted first degree sexual assault. [276]
  • A case in which the incident report reads, “The complainant reports the suspect engaged her in oral copulation, then inserted his penis into her vagina without her permission. C-1 (complainant) and S-1 (suspect) are aquaintances [sic]. No force was used per initial police report. There is no mention of force, hence the misdemeanor sex abuse.” [277] The investigative file shows no changes to the charge though the notes indicate that the victim “had sex (vaginal intercourse) against her will,” cried, and told the defendant to stop. [278]
  • A case in which the complainant reports that the suspect “put his penis inside C-1’s vagina against her will after telling him no.” [279] Internal notes indicate that the suspect also digitally penetrated the complainant’s rectum and that “The complainant stated that she did not scream or holler or even fight suspect off of her, but she did tell him no and she did not want to do it.” [280]
  • A case in which the suspect grabbed the complainant’s buttocks and “put his finger inside her vagina” though she told him to stop. [281] The investigative file shows the victim told police that the suspect also “made her suck his penis.” [282]
  • A case in which the complainant reports that while “she was voluntarily in the [suspect’s] room” the suspect engaged her in “vaginal intercourse and cunnilingus” without her consent. [283]
  • A case in which a complainant reports that the suspect forced her to orally copulate him and a second assailant forced her to touch his penis. [284]
  • A case in which the suspect reached under the complainant’s skirt and digitally penetrated her vagina against her will while she was walking down the corridor.[285]
  • A case in which the complainant reported that the suspect entered her apartment in an unknown manner and got on top of her while she was in her bed. The complainant struggled and shouted and the suspect fondled her breasts and proceeded to pull down her panties before getting dressed and leaving.[286]
  • A case in which the complainant reported that her boss pulled on her clothes, groped her breasts, and placed his hand in her pants and digitally penetrated her vagina when she went to his office to discuss working conditions.[287]
  • A case in which the suspect stuck his hand up the complainant’s skirt and inserted his finger into her rectum.[288]
  • A case in which a woman reported that her boyfriend threatened to “force himself in” her after she twice refused to have sex with him. She was afraid because he had hit her in the past.[289]
  • A case in which the complainant reported non-consensual vaginal intercourse with an acquaintance she met in a club.[290]

In the MPD’s December 2012 response to notification of Human Rights Watch’s findings that cases seemed misclassified on their face, Chief Lanier stated that,

… the initial classification is not binding nor does the classification of a report as a misdemeanor change the amount of investigative resources and effort that are dedicated to a sexual abuse case. All cases, misdemeanors and felonies have the same resources dedicated to them, and the classification of the offense only becomes relevant at the charging stage.[291]

Chief Lanier further stressed that the prosecutors have the authority to upgrade or downgrade a charge and that in the case provided to the chief by Human Rights Watch, in which the victim was vaginally penetrated repeatedly with force, the prosecutor declined to upgrade the charges.

Of the 28 misdemeanor cases reviewed by Human Rights Watch, 17 were presented to prosecutors for review; 14 of those were rejected and closed administratively for being weak cases (discussed further in the next section). One was sent back for further information. Of the two cases which did result in arrest warrants, both were considered misdemeanors, one in relation to a domestic violence charge. No cases were upgraded. While the same investigative resources may be used for all cases regardless of classification (though as a general rule it would be surprising if all misdemeanors—which usually involve contact over clothing—receive the same investigative resources as violent felonies), the categorization of crime as a misdemeanor as opposed to a more serious offense at the initial stage of investigation minimizes what happened to the victim, may mean the case is not referred to the MPD’s Victim Services, and misleads the public— which is entitled to know accurate information about local crime — about the nature of the crime.

Administrative Closures or Exceptional Clearances

Even in cases that are investigated, interviews with witnesses and a review of investigative files raise concerns that the investigations are not thorough. The US Attorney’s Office rejected more than two-thirds of the arrest warrant affidavit requests in files reviewed by Human Rights Watch, primarily on grounds that the case presented was “weak.” Arrest data provided by the MPD shows very few suspects were arrested and charged with sex abuse in 2008, 2009, and 2010. Witnesses also report police reluctance to collect evidence or follow leads. 

One way for a case to be closed at the MPD is if the US Attorney’s Office declines prosecution for lack of prosecutorial merit.[292] Concretely, for this to happen, the police must have filed an affidavit for an arrest warrant, and the prosecutor must have declined to seek the warrant. According to police policy, a sergeant and a lieutenant must review and approve every affidavit for a warrant before it is presented to the US Attorney’s Office.[293]

If the US Attorney’s Office declines prosecution, there is an administrative closure or a “304.1.” That closure might be considered “cleared by exceptional means” and counted the same as “clearance by arrest.”[294]

Publicly available “clearance rates” are one way in which police chiefs and departments are publicly evaluated. A prosecutor said, “Pressure for closure rates on police departments is enormous.” [295] FBI Uniform Crime Report (UCR) data does not distinguish between cases cleared by arrest and cases cleared by exceptional means in collecting data and tabulating offense clearance rates. [296] Cases are only supposed to be “exceptionally cleared” in limited circumstances when a suspect is identified and police have gathered enough evidence to press charges but circumstances beyond law enforcement control prevent arrest (such as the suspect is deceased, incarcerated, outside of police jurisdiction or— in some circumstances— if the victim no longer wishes to cooperate). The FBI guidelines indicate exceptional clearance is to be used by police agencies to clear offenses once “they have exhausted all leads and have done everything possible in order to clear a case.” [297]

Experts in sexual assault investigations and prosecutions also say they would expect affidavits in support of arrest warrants to be presented only when detectives believe they have a case. They would expect a majority of warrant requests to be approved or sent back for further investigation. Another mechanism should be in place if a detective is seeking prosecutorial review of an incomplete or difficult investigation.[298] An analysis of charging decisions in three cities (Kansas City, Miami, and Philadelphia) is consistent with these observations, finding that, overall, prosecutors filed charges in 54.5 percent of cases presented to them.[299]

However, 44 of the 66 warrant requests that Human Rights Watch reviewed in MPD files were rejected by the US Attorney’s Office, primarily because the case was deemed “weak.” Some of the 44 cases were closed because the victim no longer wished to cooperate.[300] Two of them were sent back for further review. Only 18 cases (27.2 percent) had a warrant request approved, and of those, 8 were for misdemeanors, and 2 were for non-sex offenses.[301] Four were for first or second degree sex abuse. For the remaining four cases in which warrants were approved, it was not possible to determine the charges from our review of the files.

Human Rights Watch reviewed only a limited number of files so it is not possible to draw a definitive conclusion from this. But the seemingly high proportion of closures in these cases does raise concern about the thoroughness of investigations and about whether police are properly investigating cases and reviewing arrest warrant requests before presenting them to the US Attorney’s Office. One prosecutor from another jurisdiction consulted for this report described these numbers as “way out of the norm” and expressed concerns that police might be consistently presenting warrant requests with insufficient evidence, or that prosecutors may be screening out serious cases because they think they may lose, creating a situation in which offenders are not held accountable. [302]

In Los Angeles, an extensive study found a similar pattern of high rejection rates for charging in sex crime cases during “pre-arrest” review. Of 383 cases presented by the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department and the Los Angeles Police Department to prosecutors between 2005 and 2009, researchers found 262 (68.4 percent) were rejected because of insufficient evidence or because the victim was unwilling to cooperate (149 of those were rejected before the suspect could be arrested). Charges were filed in 121 (31.6 percent) of cases. [303]

The report found that law enforcement was presenting “problematic” cases to the district attorney (such as cases involving victims who engaged in risk-taking behavior such as drinking or using illegal drugs, or cases in which detectives had questions about whether the victim was truthful) for pre-arrest review, and then when they were rejected, counting them as closed for purposes of their clearance rate.[304] Often the cases presented for review were those that that police had not thoroughly investigated in anticipation of a “reject” that would still count as a clearance.[305] Significantly more cases were cleared exceptionally than through arrest in both the sheriff’s and police departments.[306]

Between 2007 and 2011, the UCR average clearance for rape cases for cities between 500,000 and 1,000,000 people ranged from 39.6 percent (2007) to 43.1 percent (2009), with other years reporting clearance rates of 40 or 41 percent.[307] In contrast, the clearance rate reported by the MPD for rape was substantially higher: 67.7 percent in 2007; 65.1 percent in 2008; 76.7 percent in 2009; and 59.8 percent in 2010.[308]

However, according to arrest data the MPD provided to Human Rights Watch, only 15 arrests were made for sexual abuse (first through fourth degree, attempt, misdemeanor or “aggravating circumstances”) in 2008; 18 in 2009; and 16 were arrested on adult sex abuse charges in 2010. These arrest numbers are extremely low compared to the number of assaults in the district, yet overall clearance rates are very high, indicating that the bulk of the MPD’s cases may be closed through an administrative clearance.[309] 

For example, in 2010, the MPD reports to the FBI clearing 59.8 percent of 184 sexual assault cases (110 cases), but only 22 arrests for sexual assault were in data provided to Human Rights Watch for that year, including child sex abuse cases, misdemeanor cases, and a fourth degree sex abuse case that would not be included in FBI clearance data. The FBI information includes forcible rape against child female victims but, as discussed elsewhere, excludes other sex offenses such as cases with male victims and cases in which the victim is incapacitated. Even interpreting the data in the light most favorable to the MPD, the numbers are concerning. The number of arrests did go up substantially to 59 cases in the first six months of 2011.[310] We do not have more recent arrest or clearance data and therefore are not in a position to assess whether this increase reflects a meaningful change in the pattern of low arrests and high clearance rates.  

In response to our findings, the MPD states that “HRW’s suggestion that MPD is over-reporting its closure rates for sexual abuse is absolutely false,” noting that these cases are extremely difficult to prove or disprove and that the high closure rate is a result of the inclusion of non-adult cases in FBI data as “the non-adult cases are familial, do close, and do have an impact on closure rates.”[311] 

Human Rights Watch recognizes that these cases are difficult to prove and therefore would expect clearance or arrest rates to be low, not high, as a result. Furthermore, there is no indication of why inclusion of child cases in FBI data would disproportionately impact the District of Columbia since the same definition applies to all cities, yet the MPD’s clearance rates are well above the average (in one year nearly double) for cities its size.

However, the MPD is correct to some degree. If we ignore FBI data and use only the information about adult sexual assault cases provided to Human Rights Watch, for 2010, the estimated clearance by arrest rate for adult sex abuse cases in D.C. (including misdemeanors) is 5 percent. This is based on arrest data and documentation provided to Human Rights Watch by the MPD which shows 16 arrests and 316 incident reports for all adult sex abuse cases in 2010 (6 arrests for child sexual abuse in 2010 are excluded).

The discrepancy between the data provided to the public by the FBI about clearances, and the number of arrests (which may or may not lead to prosecution) demonstrates the need to reform the FBI’s data collection so that publication of “clearance rates” is not misleading.

Affidavits in Support of Arrest Warrants

Also troubling is the fact that many of the warrant requests reviewed by Human Rights Watch were flimsy or negative about their own supporting evidence. Information that would be exculpatory or cast doubt on the establishment of probable cause is supposed to be included in the warrant request, but in some cases that Human Rights Watch reviewed, the police had placed more emphasis on problems with the case than reasons for probable cause. In other cases, a request was made based on little, if any, investigation. One possible explanation for such compromised presentation of evidence is that they were prepared as a pretext in order to close a difficult case with little expectation of success. Two prosecutors interviewed referred to cases like these as “cover your ass” cases.[312] The following are examples of warrant requests found in MPD’s files:

  • In the fall of 2011, a victim reported going to the suspect’s house after drinking together. She vomited from alcohol consumption. The victim reported being hit and vaginally assaulted by the suspect and two other suspects. Yet the warrant request consists almost entirely of a list of eight supposed “inconsistencies” in the victim’s statement, such as that she did not elaborate on what drinks she had or what liquor was used to make the drinks; she “admitted she smoked weed;” she said the suspect “hit” her but then said he “kicked and punched her;” and that the victim was “adamant” about getting a rape kit but did not get a rape kit done. Elsewhere in the file it is apparent that the victim did undergo a forensic exam at WHC. Yet the arrest warrant request, which the detective filed after collecting the forensic exam, maintains there was no hospital visit. The files contain no indication of an investigation, apart from collection of the forensic kit. Other “inconsistencies” listed in the warrant request include that the victim refused to give the address of where her child was and did not have identification. [313]
  • In a July 2009 misdemeanor case, the complainant reported meeting the suspect at a club and going home with him, where he sexually assaulted her. The warrant request—which was denied on the grounds that it was a “weak case”—was made solely on the basis of the victim interview, even though other witnesses were named in the file and presumably could have been interviewed. [314]
  • A September 2011 case in which the complainant reported being assaulted on a date after some consensual sexual activity. She went to a friend’s house immediately after and told her of the assault but the police did not interview her friend. The case was classified as a misdemeanor and a warrant request, based on minimal investigation, was denied because it was a “weak case.” [315]
  • A January 2010 case in which the victim said she had consensual oral sex with the suspect but made it clear she would not have intercourse. The complainant described a struggle with her assailant before he forcibly penetrated her vaginally. Immediately afterwards she reported it to a friend who suggested she get a forensic exam, but she did not decide to go to the police until a few weeks later. The arrest warrant request consisted of the victim statement only and the fact that the victim identified a photo of her assailant. Police did not interview her friend or the assailant. The arrest warrant request was made and rejected four days after the victim reported her assault. [316]
  • An early 2011 case in which the victim said she had consensual oral sex with the suspect but did not give permission for vaginal intercourse and tried to push the suspect off of her. The victim statement was the only information in the file. A week later, a prosecutor rejected a warrant request under “304.1”(administrative closure) due to a “weak case.” [317]

Prosecutors interviewed by Human Rights Watch indicated that for some cases an arrest warrant request may be brought on the basis of a complainant’s statement alone, particularly if it involves a violent offender who should be removed from the street immediately.[318] However, in most cases, especially if the complainant does not remember the events, the prosecutor would expect the file to include additional information such as a “single party call,” (or “pretext call”— when the victim is asked to call the suspect on a recorded line), or an interview with a “report of rape witness,” (or “outcry witness”— the first person to whom the victim spoke of the assault), or a video from a security camera, even when there is no witness to the assault itself to corroborate the statement.[319]

Over the course of our investigation, victims and others reported a lack of initiative among some detectives when it comes to following basic leads or collecting forensic evidence:

  • An attorney reported that in early 2011, her client, Rosa S., was abducted by two men wearing masks who approached her near a metro station close to her workplace. She was taken to a house and raped repeatedly overnight before being released the next morning. Since the assailants knew personal details about her, Rosa suspected that someone with whom she had been in an abusive relationship might have arranged the assault. Initially too scared to tell anyone about her assault, she soon learned she was pregnant. Her lawyers convinced her to go to the police, who—according to the lawyer—conducted an aggressive interview that took several hours. Police did not allow Rosa to have her lawyer present for the interview, instead instructing her to wait outside (prosecutors interviewed for this report knew of no reason why the lawyer would not be permitted to be present). [320]
  • According to the attorney, the detective said there was no evidence and that police could not proceed with an investigation because the crime occurred weeks earlier. “What do you want me to do?” he asked the attorney. A staff member from the organization working with Rosa recalled being told by Rosa that the detective told her, “You are only doing this to get immigration status, aren’t you?” (Rosa already had a visa). Rosa’s lawyer said a social worker who checked on the status of the case at MPD was informed the detective did not believe Rosa and the case would not go ahead. Rosa’s lawyer recalled that Rosa tried to provide the police with DNA evidence from the abortion she later had, but there was no departmental follow up. Anxious to move on, she did not want to pursue the matter further. [321]
  • According to Estella C., when she reported her sexual assault by an acquaintance in a vehicle in the spring of 2010, she was able to give the detective her assailant’s nickname, cell phone number, and place of employment. But the detective said she could not interview him because she did not have his proper name. Estella’s boyfriend later called the number and got the assailant’s name from the caller ID and tried to give it to the detective. “What do I need that for?” the detective asked, when Estella called her with the name so the detective could interview the assailant. The detective told Estella the incident did not sound like rape and the matter would not be pursued. [322] The detective wrote in her notes, “The interview concluded with [Estella] admitting that although she may have been thinking or even saying that she did not want the suspect to touch her or to have vaginal intercourse with her, her actions dictated something totally different. Therefore the suspect may have gotten the wrong idea about her intentions.” [323] Estella tried to report the assault to another police district, but was turned away because she had already reported to the SAU. [324] Internal police notes confirm that police conducted no investigation because the detective determined during Estella’s initial interview that “no further police actions need to be taken at this time given that no sexual assault occurred.” In a case review less than a week after the assault it was noted “In light of the [victim’s] constant calls, referred to victims services. Investigation remains closed because no crime occurred.” [325]
  • In September 2010, one advocate noticed that two separate victims had named a particular perpetrator in sexual assault incidents reported to police a year apart. After checking the records she discovered it was the same suspect—something the MPD did not realize until the advocate called them, twice. Police then reopened the first case, but did not notify the first victim that they were looking into her case. [326]
  • Susan D., who reported being sexually assaulted by a date (see Summary section), said that, although a detective told her not to wash her dress or underwear because a crime scene team would pick it up from her apartment, no one ever came. Nor did anyone process the crime scene (her apartment). [327]
  • When Maya T., who reported being kidnapped and sexually assaulted over three days in April 2011, asked the detective assigned to her case about her forensic evidence kit, she said he asked her, “Rape kit? What rape kit?”— even though he had interviewed her in the hospital and knew she had completed an exam. Maya said that the detective was not interested in receiving the narrative of events that she wrote a few days after the assault, when her memory was better, telling her the report was “miscellaneous.” [328] Nor did her investigative file indicate that a rape kit was collected. [329]
  • When Shelly G. (see text box) went to the MPD with her cell phone in an effort to provide threatening voicemail messages from her assailant to her detective in October 2009, she had to wait for “well over an hour” before he would see her and then he told her he did not know if he could do anything with the evidence. [330]

Human Rights Watch provided three examples of misclassified cases to the MPD in advance of this report’s publication. In its response, the MPD addressed only one of these cases, which was classified as a misdemeanor:

  • “The complainant states that the suspect penetrated her vagina several times with his penis without her consent. The suspect then left the room. When the suspect returned, he slapped the complainant in the face and pushed her down on a mattress. The suspect then penetrated the complainant’s vagina with his penis again without her consent. The assault ended when the suspect masturbated on the complainant’s face and in her mouth.” [331] Investigative notes from the report further indicate that the complainant tried to escape but was slapped and raped again. [332]

In its response, the MPD states this case was “thoroughly investigated, and was presented to the United States Attorney’s Office (USAO) for prosecution. The USAO has the authority to upgrade or downgrade a charge depending on the facts of the case. In this case there was no effort to upgrade the charges.”[333]

The response is troubling for a number of reasons. First, if proper police procedure is followed, a request for an arrest warrant is presented to the USAO only after it has been reviewed by a sergeant and lieutenant. If that happened in this case, it means the detective’s supervisors approved classification as a misdemeanor although the incident report, on the face of it, indicates force was used, which makes it a first degree sex abuse case under D.C. law.

Second, the request for a warrant did not lead either to an upgrade or downgrade of charges by prosecutors, who simply rejected it, leading to an administrative closure of the case. We cannot tell for sure why it was rejected, but one possible reason was what appears to be the poor quality of the investigation supporting the warrant request. The investigative file suggests that the investigation focused on gathering evidence to disprove or undermine the complainant’s report of the assault, rather than investigating if there was corroborative evidence. For example, the complainant said her assailant had used drugs. The detective contacted the suspect’s parole officer and found that his drug test was clean.

That information was included in the affidavit for an arrest warrant. The rest of the investigation consisted of searching for evidence that would show the victim interacted normally with the suspect after the assault. The evidence was not found. The file showed no indication that the detectives pursued any of the forensic evidence either from the forensic exam or the crime scene which may have supported the victim’s complaint. There are a number of standard investigative steps such as identifying and interviewing witnesses the complainant may have spoken with immediately after the assault, or conducting a pretext phone call ( when the victim is asked to call the suspect on a recorded line) , that could have been pursued. The file indicates that they were not. A potential witness was a person with an interest in the property where the assault was said to have occurred. The file indicates that the person was not contacted by the police. In light of what is, and what is not in the investigative file and the police affidavit seeking a warrant, Human Rights Watch finds it troubling that the chief would describe this investigation as “thorough.”

Shelly G.

Shelly G. shared the following account about her experience. She was at a bar with co-workers in October 2009. A stranger at the bar was watching her all evening and bought her and her friends drinks. She woke up partially clothed in her living room with the man from the bar, who was also undressed. She had no recollection of what happened but feared she had been sexually assaulted. Afraid for her safety, she locked herself in her bedroom until the morning. She went to the hospital for a forensic exam that day and met an MPD detective there. [334] She told the detective what happened and a friend who was with her also spoke with the detective. However, she felt that once she told the detective that she had been drinking, he shut down. He tried to discourage her from reporting by saying it would “take years” to get results from her forensic exam and DNA results from sperm on her pajamas. Meanwhile, Shelly’s assailant contacted her repeatedly over the phone and left her voicemail messages saying, “I know I was aggressive. Don’t do anything stupid. Be cool.” [335]

Over the course of the investigation, Shelly said getting the detective to follow up “was like pulling teeth.” [336] She felt he had already made up his mind it was not a good case and he would not pursue it. When Shelly took her cell phone to the MPD so that the police would have the messages she received from the assailant, she waited for well over an hour before the detective came to get the phone. Then he said, “I don’t know if we can do anything with this.” When she applied for and received a temporary protective order, she ran into her detective, who asked, “Is this really necessary?” [337]

Shelly was not sure the detective classified the case as sexual abuse (indeed, a review of the file indicated it was classified as an allegation). The detective told her, “I see this kind of case all the time. There isn’t enough evidence.” [338] He made Shelly feel like she was imagining things or at fault—that she had too much to drink and did something that she regretted. 

After the assault, Shelly’s friend Matt K. ran into the detective at the bar where the events occurred, where the detective had gone to collect evidence. Matt introduced himself to the

detective and offered to assist with the investigation. Because he had been drinking, Matt suggested they do the interview another time, but the detective said they could take care of it then. Matt was very concerned about what had happened to Shelly and described in detail what had happened that night. However, he felt the detective was “dismissive.” He gave Matt an analogy about seeing two cars about to collide when a truck passes by, making it impossible to see what happened. He did not ask Matt about Shelly’s response immediately after the assault and never called him to follow up. [339]

When the detective decided to close Shelly G.’s case in the fall of 2009, he called her late on a Saturday night and asked her what she was doing. She said she had just arrived at a wedding reception. He insisted that he meet with her immediately. He came to the hotel lobby and, according to his notes, told her about a videotape from the bar that he said was inconsistent with her version of events and said “that there was no physical evidence supporting her speculation that she had been abducted and sexually assaulted.” [340] Noting his skepticism, Shelly said she confronted the detective about whether he believed her, and he made it clear he did not. [341] She said of the meeting, “To hear him tell me he didn’t believe me was a slap in my face. It just knocked me down, it was a punch in my stomach. It just took the air right out of me. And where do you go from there when the policeman tells you he doesn’t believe you?” [342]

The detective’s skepticism is apparent in the file, despite physical injuries (discoloration on her mouth and hip) and other unexplained physical evidence. After reviewing video footage from the bar, the detective noted, “It was apparent from the video footage that the C’s claim of being carried out of [the bar] and being kidnapped, did not appear plausible.” Yet nowhere in the notes from the interviews with Shelly or her friends was there any indication that anyone claimed she had been kidnapped. [343]

The detective’s notes did not include any information about the content of the threatening voicemails. In an interview with the detective, the suspect denied that there was sexual contact with Shelly G. [344] Yet the detective closed the case well before receiving results from the forensic exam and before lab results were returned from the pajamas, which would have had direct bearing on the suspect’s claim that there had been no sexual contact between him and Shelly. [345] The detective led Shelly to believe her assailant had indicated that they had had a consensual encounter. Like other victims, Shelly described feeling even more traumatized by the experience after reporting to the police. She is still recovering. [346] Three years after the events occurred, on October 26, 2012, after following up with MPD and after Human Rights Watch had informed the department of its preliminary findings, Shelly received a message from Chief Lanier indicating that her case would be re-opened. However, when Shelly spoke with a lieutenant about re-opening her case, the lieutenant was abrasive and left Shelly “feeling, once again, like I am in the wrong.” [347]

[124] The new definition introduced in 2012 is,penetration, no matter how slight, of the vagina or anus with any body part or object, or oral penetration by a sex organ of another person, without the consent of the victim."

[125] See Civil Rights Division, US Department of Justice, “Investigation of the Puerto Rico Police Department,” September 5, 2011, p. 57 (expressing concern about the low reported number of rapes compared to murders).

[126] US Civil Rights Division, Department of Justice, “Investigation of the New Orleans Police Department,” March 16, 2011, pp. 43-49 (finding that the NOPD’s strikingly low number of reported rapes was likely a result of diverting complaints of possible sexual assault into a category of non-criminal or miscellaneous complaints, resulting in a sweeping failure to properly investigate many rapes and sexual assaults); Justin Fenton, “City rape statistics, investigations draw concern: Police defend tactics, but mayor orders review,” Baltimore Sun, June 27, 2010 (finding that in 4 of 10 emergency calls to police involving allegations of rape, officers concluded there was no need for review, so the cases did not make it to detectives; more than 30 percent of cases that did go to detectives were deemed unfounded).

[127] Federal Bureau of Investigations, US Department of Justice, “Table 4: Crime in the United States by Region, Geographic Division, and State, 2008-2009,” September 2010, http://ww2.fbi.gov/ucr/cius2009/data/table_04.html (accessed May 23, 2012).

[128] Metropolitan Police Department Standard Operating Procedures, “Investigative Case Tracking and UCR Classification,” effective date April 8, 2003.

[129] Letter from Metropolitan Police Department to Phil Mendelson, council member, February 24, 2012, p.12.

[130] Martin D. Schwartz, “National Institute of Justice Visiting Fellowship: Police Investigation of Rape – Roadblocks and Solutions,” Doc. No. 232667, US Department of Justice Number 2003-IJ-CX-1027, December 2010, p.15.

[131] Human Rights Watch telephone interview with community advocate R.L., March 9, 2011 (describing a survivor who lived in a group home who was assaulted by an acquaintance who offered to give her a ride from the Metro stop; the police said, “Your case isn’t going to be investigated”); Human Rights Watch telephone interview with L.P., March 16, 2011 (recalling a case of a homeless person where the police did not spend any time with her and “it was clear they were not going to do anything to help”); Human Rights Watch telephone interview with medical staff I.L., December 7, 2011 (recounting a case of an assault in a court-appointed halfway house; rather than make an effort to persuade the victim to talk to him, the detective “blew her off,” despite the fact that the assault took place in a government facility).

[132] Human Rights Watch telephone interviews with medical staff P.R., February 18, 2011 and September 22, 2011; and with medical staff M.H., April 8, 2011.

[133] Human Rights Watch telephone interview with P.S., March 15, 2011 and May 3, 2011; Human Rights Watch telephone interview with T.A., April 8, 2011; Human Rights Watch interview with K.V., Washington, D.C., March 28, 2011; Human Rights Watch joint interview with Cyndee Clay, executive director of Helping Individual Prostitutes Survive (HIPS), and colleague, Washington, D.C., March 28, 2011.

[134] Human Rights Watch telephone interview with P.S., March 15, 2011.

[135] Human Rights Watch telephone interview with medical staff M.H., April 8, 2011.

[136] Critical Issues in Policing Series, Police Executive Research Forum, “Improving the Police Response to Sexual Assault,” March 2012, http://policeforum.org/library/critical-issues-in-policing-series/SexualAssaulttext_web.pdf (accessed August 3, 2012), p. 34.

[137] Jane E. Brody, “Supportive Steps After Sexual Assault,” New York Times, December 20, 2011, p. D7; David Lisak and Paul Miller, “Repeat Rape and Multiple Offending Among Undetected Rapists,” Violence and Victims, vol. 17, no. 1, 2002, p. 78; Stephanie K. McWhorter et al., “Reports of Rape Reperpetration by Newly Enlisted Male Navy Personnel,” Violence and Victims, vol. 24, no. 2, 2009.

[138] Sgt. Joanne Archambault, Dr. Kimberly Lonsway, and End Violence Against Women International (EVAWI), “Clearance Methods for Sexual Assault Cases,” July 2007 (updated May 2012), p. 27. In police files, for example, one detective noted that the complainant “advised that she did not call the police for help because she has made several police reports in the past and did not receive satisfactory service.” Human Rights Watch notes from review of MPD investigative files, SX10-XXX, August 22, 2012, on file at Human Rights Watch.

[139] Human Rights Watch interview with Commander George Kucik, Lieutenant Pamela Burkett-Jones, Sergeant Keith Ronald Reed, and Tyria Fields, program manager for Victim Services, Metropolitan Police Department, Washington, D.C., May 30, 2012.

[140] Ibid. The only time a report would not be prepared, according to Commander Kucik, is “if there is definitive information the report is untruthful.”

[141] Deposition testimony of Sergeant George Maradiaga, --- v. The District of Columbia et al., July 14, 2008, pp. 135-36; Special Order, Metropolitan Police Department “Sexual Assault Nurse Examiners Program (SANE),” SO-01-06, effective date April 2, 2001, p. 3; General Order, Metropolitan Police Department, “Adult Sexual Assault Investigations,” Series 304 number 06, effective date December 22, 2006, p. 10; Special Order, Metropolitan Police Department, “Handling of Sexual Abuse Cases,” SO-07, effective date April 11, 2000, p. 3 (“In all cases, whenever a member responds to a call for service or is notified regarding an allegation of sexual abuse, a PD Form 251 and PD Form 252 will be completed, documenting the allegations.”).

[142] The form has changed during the time period for which we received forms. Until 2009 most forms were filled out manually, by filling in circles for certain information. More recent forms are computerized.However, MPD data collection methods are inconsistent and incomplete. Many fields are consistently left blank by reporting officers. 

[143] Metropolitan Police Department, Sexual Assault Unit SOP, p. 55.

[144] An incident report is supposed to be completed documenting complaints of sexual abuse even if no crime was deemed to have occurred, if the offense occurred in another jurisdiction, if the sexual activity was not a crime, or if the offender was arrested in another jurisdiction. Metropolitan Police Department, Sexual Assault Unit SOP, p.31-33.

[145] General Order, Metropolitan Police Department, “Adult Sexual Assault Investigations,” December 22, 2006, p. 10. Identical language appears in the 2011 General Order. See General Order, Metropolitan Police Department, “Adult Sexual Assault Investigations,” August 25, 2011, p. 7. However, more ambiguously, the 2011 order also says the responding officer should prepare the PD Form 251 “unless otherwise directed by the SAU detective.” Ibid., p. 4.

[146] General Order, Metropolitan Police Department, “Adult Sexual Assault Investigations,” December 22, 2006, p. 10. The 2011 General Order also requires the PD-251 to be complete by the end of an officer’s shift. General Order, Metropolitan Police Department, “Adult Sexual Assault Investigations,” August 25, 2011 p. 8; Human Rights Watch interview with Commander George Kucik, Lieutenant Pamela Burkett-Jones, Sergeant Keith Ronald Reed, and Tyria Fields, program manager for victims services, Washington, D.C., May 30, 2012.

[147] “Reminder to Members Regarding Sexual Assault Investigations,” June 8, 2012, on file at Human Rights Watch.

[148] Human Rights Watch interview with Commander George Kucik, Lieutenant Pamela Burkett-Jones, Sergeant Keith Ronald Reed, and Tyria Fields, program manager for Victim Services, Washington, D.C., May 30, 2012.

[149] Ibid.

[150] Deposition testimony of Officer Michael Minor, _____ v. Washington D.C, et al., May 14, 2008, pp. 98-100; Deposition testimony of Officer Ginette Leveque, --- v. The District of Columbia et al., April 14, 2008, pp. 73-74; Deposition testimony of Officer Tandreia Green, --- v. The District of Columbia et al., May 8, 2008, p. 69.

[151] Human Rights Watch email correspondence with R.A., June 15, 2012.

[152] Human Rights Watch interview with Chief Lanier, Assistant Chief Pete Newsham, and Sergeant Ronald K, Reid, Washington D.C., June 14, 2012.

[153]Human Rights Watch telephone interviews with medical staff P.R., February 18, 2011 and September 22, 2011; and with medical staff M.H., April 8, 2011.

[154] Victims assaulted in Maryland or Virginia occasionally report for an exam at Washington Hospital Center. Also, some cases in D.C. that occur in parks fall under the jurisdiction of the US Park Police or the Metro Transit Police. WHC provided information on the police department cases which were referred from/to for 24 of the 36 months studied; 39 patients were reported to non-MPD police departments during these months, including 6 in August and 4 in September 2011. Human Rights Watch estimated the number of non-MPD cases for the remaining 12 months. Because August and September 2011 were outliers, Human Rights Watch used the median of non-MPD cases reported to WHC per month (1) to estimate non-MPD cases in the 12 months for which we do not have data. Therefore, a total of 51 cases (39 reported, 12 estimated) were removed from analysis due to being reported to non-MPD police departments. For the 12 estimated cases, we removed cases that did not match a date for an MPD PD-251.

[155] Human Rights Watch used dates for the comparison because we did not have other victim identifying information that could be used to match hospital reports with police reports. Some cases that we counted as matches with police reports may in fact be cases in which a victim happened to report to MPD within 24 hours of a different victim reporting at the hospital. When we were unable to determine from police information whether the victim had a forensic exam at WHC, we gave the benefit of the doubt to the police department and assumed it could be a potential match.

[156] Human Rights Watch included all attempted sexual assaults, even though in many cases where there was no penetration, no sexual assault kit was completed. However, forensic evidence (such as saliva swabs) should be gathered as long as there is contact between the victim and suspect, even if there is no penetration. 

[157] Of the 183 police records indicating the victim went to the Washington Hospital Center, 177 were recorded within 24 hours of a WHC hospital report. Five “office information” cases and two “allegations” corresponded to “non-reports” at the hospital.

[158] In the Human Rights Watch interview with Commander George Kucik, Lieutenant Pamela Burkett-Jones, Sergeant Keith Ronald Reed, and Tyria Fields, program manager for victims services on May 30, 2012, MPD confirmed that PD-251s are all completed during an officer or detective’s shift.

[159] Human Rights Watch initially also compared hospital reports to crime report data about sexual assaults made publicly available on the MPD’s website and obtained similar results. However, in its June 8, 2012 response to our findings, the MPD raised concerns that the data on its website was incomplete, as it did not include cases in which it was not clear a sexual assault had occurred. Therefore we have excluded the website-based analysis from this report.

[160] Cases deemed for “office information” only are also sometimes called “miscellaneous” cases or “sick or injured person to hospital.”

[161] See Cassia Spohn and Katharine Tellis, “Policing and Prosecuting Sexual Assault in Los Angeles City and County: A Collaborative Study in Partnership with the Los Angeles Police Department, the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department, and the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office,” Document No. 237582,  US Department of Justice Number 2009-WG-BX-0009, February 2012, https://www.ncjrs.gov/pdffiles1/nij/grants/237582.pdf(accessed November 30, 2012), p. III; Human Rights Watch email correspondence with Cassia Spohn, October 25, 2012..

[162] See Human Rights Watch, United States – “I Used to Think the Law Would Protect Me”: Illinois’s Failure to Test Rape Kits, July 7, 2010, http://www.hrw.org/reports/2010/07/07/i-used-think-law-would-protect-me-0, p. 9.

[163] Office on Violence Against Women, US Department of Justice, “Ensuring Forensic Medical Exams for All Sexual Assault Victims: A Toolkit for States and Territories,” December 2008, p. 15.

[164] Deposition testimony of Detective Sergeant Kevin Steven Rice, October 14, 2008, pp. 263, 266-67; Deposition testimony of Detective Elgin Wheeler, October 3, 2008, pp. 225-227; Deposition testimony of Sergeant George Maradiaga, July 14, 2008, pp. 79-84, 138-143, 195.

[165] Deposition testimony of Sergeant George Maradiaga, July 14, 2008, p. 143.

[166] Deposition testimony of Officer Michael Minor, _____ v. Washington D.C., et al., May 14, 2008, p. 43.

[167] Deposition testimony of Officer Michael Minor, May 14, 2008, pp. 45-47.

[168] Deposition testimony of Officer Ginette Leveque, April 14, 2008, pp. 39, 42; Deposition testimony of Officer Tandreia Green, May 8, 2008, p. 30.

[169] Deposition testimony of Sergeant George Maradiaga, July 14, 2008, pp. 79-84, 103-104.

[170] “Unfounding” a case is also a term of art. Under the FBI guidelines, a case can only be “unfounded” if it is “determined through investigation to be false or baseless. In other words, no crime occurred.” Uniform Crime Reporting Handbook 2004, Federal Bureau of Investigations, US Department of Justice, p. 77, at http://www.fbi.gov/about-us/cjis/ucr/additional-ucr-publications/ucr_handbook.pdf (accessed May 11, 2012). A case cannot be considered false or baseless if no investigation was conducted or if it yielded insufficient evidence. For a case to be considered officially “unfounded” at the MPD, a written report is supposed to be prepared and approved by a supervisor. Deposition testimony of Detective Elgin Wheeler, October 3, 2008, pp. 226-27, 230; MPD Standard Operating Procedures, Sexual Assault Unit, p. 32. The number of officially “unfounded” MPD cases is low. In 2008, for example, only nine rapes were unfounded according to information provided to the FBI, a percentage of cases (4.84%) much lower than many other cities. Federal Bureau of Investigations, Uniform Crime Reporting data, on file at Human Rights Watch.

[171]Deposition testimony of Officer Michael Minor, May 14, 2008, pp. 35-36, 40.

[172] Deposition testimony of Detective Sergeant Kevin Steven Rice, October 14, 2008 p. 58-59.

[173] Ibid., pp. 62-65, 83.

[174] See deposition testimony of Officer Ginette Leveque, April 14, 2008, pp. 67-68, 71, 73, 157-58, 160-161; deposition testimony of Officer Tandreia Green, May 8, 2008, pp. 64, 203; deposition testimony of Detective Sergeant Kevin Steven Rice, October 14, 2008, pp. 178, 198-199; deposition testimony of Officer Michael Minor, May 14, 2008, pp. 47-48 (estimating that reports were not written up for about half the sexual assault cases they responded to at the time of the depositions).

[175] Human Rights Watch telephone interview with Chief Lanier, June 1, 2012.

[176] Human Rights Watch telephone interview with R.A., September 24, 2011.

[177] Letter from Metropolitan Police Department to Phil Mendelson, council member, February 24, 2012, p. 12.

[178] “Sexual Assault Response and Investigation: Portland efforts fall short of a victim-centered approach,” A Report from the City Auditor, June 2007, www.portlandonline.com/shared/cfm/image.cfm?id=158873 (accessed May 24, 2012), p. 28 (reporting a median of 54 sexual assault cases per detective in nine cities, and a five-year average of 56 cases per detective in Portland); William Prummell, “Allocation of Personnel: Investigations,” (analyzing caseload for detectives in Charlotte County, Florida and citing a Florida average of 72-96 major crimes cases per detective), on file at Human Rights Watch.  Elsewhere sex crimes detectives carry as many as 110 cases per year. Human Rights Watch telephone interview with Sgt. Joanne Archambault, Addy, Washington, May 15, 2012.

[179] “Reminder to Members Regarding Sexual Assault Investigations,” June 8, 2012, on file at Human Rights Watch.

[180] In re-reviewing WHC records, we also included exam exemption reports in which nurses documented that victims reported to MPD at WHC despite not getting forensic exams. Because of the corrections after reviewing police data, and the inclusion of the exam exemptions who reported to police, the total number of cases for which no matching PD-251 could be located increased to 183 cases in the final analysis.

[181] Deposition testimony of Vincent Spriggs, --- v. The District of Columbia et al., October 23, 2008, p. 227.

[182] Ibid., pp. 225-226

[183] Ibid., p. 231

[184] Deposition testimony of [Rachel], --- v. The District of Columbia et al., April 1, 2008, pp. 124.

[185]Ibid., pp. 339-340, 346-47.

[186]  Deposition testimony of [Rachel’s sister], --- v. The District of Columbia et al., March 31, 2008, pp. 145-146, 344-45.

[187]Deposition testimony of Sergeant George Maradiaga, July 14, 2008, pp. 207-208.

[188] Deposition testimony of Detective Sergeant Kevin Steven Rice, _____ v. Washington D.C., et al., October 14, 2008, p. 182.

[189] Deposition testimony of Detective Sergeant Kevin Steven Rice, October 14, 2008, pp. 188-89; Deposition testimony of Detective Elgin Wheeler, --- v. The District of Columbia et al., October 3, 2008, pp. 124-26, 134-35.

[190] Deposition testimony of Sergeant Kevin Rice, October 14, 2008, p. 211.

[191] Ibid., pp. 198-99.

[192] Leveque Exhibit 2, Incident-Based Event Report, December 9, 2006, on file at Human Rights Watch.

[193] Exhibit A to Plaintiff’s Opposition to the Defendants’ Refiled Motion for Partial Dismissal or in the Alternative for Partial Summary Judgment, Plaintiff’s Statement of Material Facts in Opposition to Defendants; Motion for Summary Judgment, citing deposition testimony of [Rachel], April 1, 2008, paras. 104-110, and deposition testimony of [Rachel’s sister], March 31, 2008, pp. 177-79.

[194] Deposition testimony of Officer Ginette Leveque, --- v. The District of Columbia et al., April 14, 2008, pp. 24, 29, 37 (though Officer Leveque’s supervisor asked her to write an account of what happened); Deposition testimony of Officer Tandreia Green, --- v. The District of Columbia et al., May 8, 2008, pp. 20-21; Deposition testimony of Detective Elgin Wheeler, October 3, 2008, pp. 161-62; Deposition testimony of Detective Sergeant Kevin Steven Rice, October 14, 2008 p. 320.

[195] Deposition testimony of Officer Ginette Leveque, --- v. The District of Columbia et al., April 14, 2008, pp. 24, 29, 37 (In contrast, she was disciplined for misusing her laptop because she used the word “hell” in a text message. Ibid. pp. 19-20). Tandreia Green was also disciplined for a paperwork issue, but not for her handling of the case in the lawsuit. Deposition testimony of Officer Tandreia Green, --- v. The District of Columbia et al., May 8, 2008, pp. 20-21.

[196] Memorandum opinion, ----- v. District of Columbia et al., August 25, 2010.

[197] For research on the effects of trauma, see J. Michael Rivard, M.D. et al, “Acute Dissociative Responses in Law Enforcement Officers Involved in Critical Shooting Incidents: The Clinical and Forensic Implications,” Journal of Forensic Science, vol. 47, no. 5, July 2002; David Lisak, “The Neurobiology of Trauma,” 2002 (unpublished article, on file at Human Rights Watch); Sgt. Joanne Archambault, Dr. Kimberly Lonsway, and EVAWI,  “Interviewing the Victim,” May 2007, p. 21; PPCT Management Systems Inc. (1989), Use of Force Human Factors  (Chapter One);  Mary P. Koss, Shannon Tramp, and Melinda Tharan, “Traumatic memories: Empirical foundations, forensic and clinical implications,” Clinical Psychology: Science and Practice, vol. 2, no. 2, June 1995, pp. 111-132.

[198] Deposition testimony of Officer Michael Minor, May 14, 2008, p. 90-91.

[199] An additional problem is that prior to the change in policy in 2008 that allows victims to get a forensic exam without police authorization, the on-the-spot determination that no crime was committed also meant a sexual assault victim would be denied SANE exams by police who instructed hospitals not to examine complainants. Deposition testimony of Detective Vincent Spriggs, October 23, 2008, pp. 184-85. The decision of whether or not to authorize a kit was also made by a detective without guidelines from superiors. Deposition testimony of Detective Sergeant Kevin Steven Rice, October 14, 2008, pp. 101-103. This policy has changed, and a victim now does not require any police permission or authorization to avail themselves of a SANE exam, though as discussed below, police still sometimes indicate an exam is not warranted or “authorized.”

[200] Exam Exemption forms, through October 2011, on file at Human Rights Watch.

[201] For example, in one case, the patient left the hospital before her exam, and the nurse noted, “MPD Detectives have already seen the patient and will not investigate.” District of Columbia Sexual Assault Nurse Examiners Exam Exemption Report, June 23, 2010, on file at Human Rights Watch.

[202] Human Rights Watch notes from review of MPD investigative files, SA10-XXX, SA10-XXX, SA10-XXX, SA11-XXX, August 21, 2012, on file at Human Rights Watch. Other cases are closed before results from forensic exams are returned, even when forensic evidence might address important issues in the case. Ibid., SA09-XXX, SX09-XXX.

[203] MPD/SANE SART Subcommittee Meeting, April 8, 2009, on file at Human Rights Watch.

[204] Human Rights Watch interview with Cindy Teller, D.C. SANE director from July 2008 through December 2009, Newport Beach, Virginia, June 24, 2011.

[205] Human Rights Watch group interview with advocates, Washington D.C., March 28, 2011; Human Rights Watch interview with Cindy Teller, June 24, 2011.

[206] Human Rights Watch group interview with advocates, March 28, 2011.

[207] Complaint form, Office of Police Complaints, May 9, 2011 (provided by Maya T.), on file at Human Rights Watch.

[208] Human Rights Watch telephone interview with Maya T. (pseudonym), May 10, 2011; Complaint form, Office of Police Complaints, May 9, 2011 (provided by Maya T.); Narrative of events provided by Maya T., on file at Human Rights Watch.

[209] Incident-Based Event Report, Complaint No. 11058XXX, April 28, 2011, on file at Human Rights Watch.

[210] Complaint form, Office of Police Complaints, May 9, 2011 (provided by Maya T.), on file at Human Rights Watch.

[211] Human Rights Watch notes from review of MPD investigative files, SA11-XXX, August 22, 2012.

[212] Ibid.

[213] Human Rights Watch telephone interviews with C.L., assistant US attorney, September 18, 2012; and with E.M., assistant US attorney, September 19, 2012.

[214] Metropolitan Police Department, Sexual Assault Unit SOP, pp. 32-33.

[215] Ibid.

[216] Deposition testimony of Officer Tandreia Green, May 8, 2008, p. 134.

[217] Deposition testimony of Sergeant Kevin Rice, October 14, 2008, pp. 198-99.

[218] Metropolitan Police Department, Sexual Assault Unit SOP, January 14, 2003, p. 31.

[219] A letter from MPD’s lawyer defines SX files as “sexual assault cases that were further investigated by the Sexual Assault Unit.” Letter from Natasha Cenatus, FOIA officer, Metropolitan Police Department, July 26, 2011, on file at Human Rights Watch. 

[220] Metropolitan Police Department, Sexual Assault Unit SOP, January 14, 2003, pp. 31-32. However, as described above and elsewhere in this report, in a number of cases in which the victim is too intoxicated to report or otherwise is unclear about elements of the crime, the case is classified as an “office information” case rather than an allegation and is not followed up.

[221] Sgt. Joanne Archambault, Dr. Kimberly Lonsway, and EVAWI, “Reporting Methods for Sexual Assault Cases,” July 2007, p. 10.

[222] Human Rights Watch notes from review of MPD investigative files, SA09-XXX, August 21, 2012.

[223] Human Rights Watch notes from review of MPD investigative files, SA09-XXX, August 23, 2012.

[224] Human Rights Watch notes from review of MPD investigative files, SA11-XXX, August 21, 2012. In contrast, in a February 2011 case, a detective notes meeting a complainant at the hospital who was incoherent and unable to tell the detective details of what happened to her. The detective wrote, “I advised the complainant that I would return at a better time.” The detective did follow up, and the case was upgraded from an allegation to a sex abuse case, eventually resulting in an arrest. Human Rights Watch notes from review of MPD investigative files, SA11-XXX/SX11-XXX, August 22, 2012.

[225] Human Rights Watch notes from review of MPD investigative files, SA09-XXX, August 23, 2012.

[226] In addition, Human Rights Watch received dozens of PD-251s from the MPD for sexual assault cases not classified as “miscellaneous” that included identifying information about victims (including names, addresses, and telephone numbers) in violation of MPD guidelines.

[227] Human Rights Watch notes from review of MPD investigative files, SA10-XXX, August 23, 2012.

[228] Human Rights Watch notes from review of MPD investigative files, SA10-XXX, August 21, 2012.

[229] Incident-Based Event Report, Complaint No. 11058XXX, April 28, 2011, on file at Human Rights Watch.

[230]Human Rights Watch notes from review of MPD investigative files, SA11-XXX, August 22, 2012.

[231] Human Rights Watch notes from review of MPD investigative files, SA11-XXX, August 22, 2012.

[232] Incident-Based Event Report, Complaint No. 11024XXX, February 22, 2011, on file at Human Rights Watch.

[233] Incident-Based Event Report, Complaint No. 11122XXX, August 21, 2011, on file at Human Rights Watch.

[234] Incident-Based Event Report, Complaint No. 11145XXX, October 4, 2011, on file at Human Rights Watch.

[235] Incident-Based Event Report, Complaint No. 10143XXX, October 3, 2010, on file at Human Rights Watch.

[236] Human Rights Watch notes from review of MPD files, August 21-23, 2012, on file at Human Rights Watch.

[237] Human Rights Watch notes from review of MPD investigative files, SA11-XXX. August 21, 2012.

[238] Human Rights Watch notes from review of MPD investigative files, August 21, 2012.

[239] Human Rights Watch notes from review of MPD investigative files, SA09-XXX, August 21, 2012.

[240] Letter to Human Rights Watch from Chief Lanier, December 20, 2012, on file at Human Rights Watch.

[241] According to the June 12, 2012 memorandum on sexual assault investigations, the “Criminal Investigations Division is currently reviewing and updating standard operating procedures for the Sexual Assault Unit.” Criminal Investigations Division, Metropolitan Police Department, Division Memorandum, “Sexual Assault Investigations,” June 12, 2012, p. 1.

[242] Incident-Based Event Report, Complaint No. 11075XXX, May 29, 2011, on file at Human Rights Watch.

[243] Letter from Eleanor G. to Chief Cathy Lanier, October 4, 2011, on file at Human Rights Watch.

[244] Ibid.; Human Rights Watch telephone interview with Eleanor G., Washington, D.C., July 26, 2012; email correspondence from Eleanor G. to Officers Daryl Marine and Conan Conaboy, Metropolitan Police Department, July 7 and July 15, 2011, on file at Human Rights Watch.

[245] Human Rights Watch interview with Eleanor G., Washington, D.C., August 21, 2012.

[246] Ibid.

[247] Human Rights Watch notes from review of MPD investigative files, 3DDU11-3XXX, August 21, 2012.

[248] Letter from Eleanor G. to Chief Lanier, October 4, 2011, on file at Human Rights Watch.

[249] Human Rights Watch interview with Eleanor G., Washington, D.C., August 21, 2012.

[250] Ibid.

[251] Ibid.

[252] District of Columbia Sexual Assault Nurse Examiners Exam Exemption Report, September 25, 2010, on file at Human Rights Watch.

[253] Email communication from lawyer to Human Rights Watch, August 12, 2011.

[254] Human Rights Watch telephone interview with medical staff P.R., May 10, 2011.

[255] Incident-Based Event Report, Complaint No. 145XXX, October 10, 2009.

[256] D.C. Code Section 22-3001. “Sexual acts” also include “The penetration, however slight, of the anus or vulva of another by a penis; contact between the mouth and the penis, the mouth and the vulva, or the mouth and the anus.”

[257] Internal OVS email describing account of case, dated April 18, 2011, on file at Human Rights Watch. It is possible the detective thought the suspect was searching for drugs.

[258] Ibid; An exemption form indicates a detective informed the patient that it was a robbery and physical assault and not a sexual assault and that detectives already got the person who assaulted her. The victim said, “I do not feel like dealing with this situation. I am already embarrassed enough.” District of Columbia, Sexual Assault Nurse Examiners Exam Exemption Report, dated April 13, 2011, on file at Human Rights Watch. Sergeants who supervise the unit are to ensure that all reports and investigations are properly classified, and they are responsible for the proper investigation of all cases assigned to their squad members. Metropolitan Police Department, Sexual Assault Unit SOP, January 14, 2003, p. 96-97.

[259] Incident-Based Event Report, Complaint No. 11046XXX, April 7, 2011, on file at Human Rights Watch.

[260] Criminal Investigations Division, Metropolitan Police Department, Division Memorandum, “Sexual Assault Investigations,” June 12, 2012, p.2.

[261] Misdemeanor sexual abuse, D.C. Code Ann. § 22-3006. A sexual act is defined as “The penetration, however slight, of the anus or vulva of another by a penis; contact between the mouth and the penis, the mouth and the vulva, or the mouth and the anus.” Sexual acts also include ”the penetration, however slight, of the anus or vulva by a hand or finger or by any object, with an intent to abuse, humiliate, harass, degrade, or arouse or gratify the sexual desire of any person” D.C. Code Section 22-3001 (8).

[262] A review of state law found that of the 15 states that define sexual assault in a way that includes sexual penetration without consent, only one state (Alabama) classifies it as a misdemeanor. Even in Alabama, the punishment for such an assault is up to a year, twice as long as in D.C.. Sexual Misconduct, Ala. Code Sec. 13A-6-65 (2010). Elsewhere, a sexual act of penetration without consent is considered a felony with a multi-year sentence. See, for example,  Sexual Abuse in the Second Degree, Or. Rev. Stat. Ann. Sec. 163.425 (West 2011) Sexual Battery; Miss. Code Ann. Sec. 97-3-95 (West 2010); Sexual Battery, penalty, Miss. Code Ann. Sec. 97-3-101 (West 2010); Sexual assault, penalties, Mo. Ann. Stat. Sec. 566.040 (West 2011); Rape in the third degree, N.Y. Penal Law Sec. 130.25 (McKinney 2011). The FBI now defines rape as “The penetration, no matter how slight, of the vagina or anus with any body part or object or oral penetration by a sex organ of another person, without the consent of the victim.” “UCR Program Changes Definition of Rape: Includes All Victims and Omits Requirement of Physical Force,” Federal Bureau of Investigations, March 2012, http://www.fbi.gov/about-us/cjis/cjis-link/march-2012/ucr-program-changes-definition-of-rape (accessed November 16, 2012). While D.C.’s definition of misdemeanor sex abuse seems out of step with laws elsewhere, it is beyond the scope of this report to compare the District’s approach to that of other jurisdictions to determine its effectiveness. Prosecutors interviewed for this report in the District appreciated having the ability to prosecute difficult cases in front of a judge—rather than a jury—which would not be possible if the punishment were more severe. Human Rights Watch telephone interviews with C.L., assistant US attorney, Washington D.C., September 18, 2012; with M.G., assistant US attorney, Washington D.C., September 19, 2012; and with S.R., assistant US attorney, September 18, 2012. However, an expert advises that if you never try these cases before juries, they are never going to understand them or convict, so it is a self-perpetuating cycle. And the result is that victims are less safe because offenders are not held accountable. Human Rights Watch email correspondence with Jennifer Long, director, Aequitas:The Prosecutors’ Resource on Violence Against Women, October 24, 2012.

[263] Human Rights Watch notes from review of MPD investigative files, SX08-XXX, SX11-XXX, August 21, 2012.

[264] Letter from Chief Lanier to Human Rights Watch, June 8, 2012, on file at Human Rights Watch.

[265] Incident-Based Event Report, Complaint No. 113XXX, August 11, 2008, on file at Human Rights Watch.

[266] Incident-Based Event Report, Complaint No. 033XXX, March 12, 2009, on file at Human Rights Watch.

[267] Human Rights Watch notes from review of MPD investigative files, SX09-XXX, August 22, 2012.

[268] Incident-Based Event Report, Complaint No. 108XXX, July 31, 2009, on file at Human Rights Watch.

[269] Incident-Based Event Report, Complaint No. 132XXX, September 15, 2009, on file at Human Rights Watch.

[270] Human Rights Watch notes from review of MPD investigative files, SX09-XXX, August 22, 2012. In response to notice about Human Rights Watch’s concern about misclassification of this case, Chief Lanier informed Human Rights Watch on December 20, 2012, that the case was thoroughly investigated and presented to the US Attorney’s Office for prosecution, but in this case “there was no effort to upgrade the charges.” Letter from Chief Lanier to Human Rights Watch, December 20, 2012. When a case is presented to the US Attorney’s Office it should mean that the classification was reviewed and approved by a sergeant and a lieutenant. If that happened in this case, that is troubling. Furthermore, according to records on that case reviewed by Human Rights Watch, the US Attorney’s Office declined a warrant request made two-and-a-half weeks after the incident, following an investigation that raises several causes for concern. The investigation of this case is discussed further in the Administrative Closures section below.

[271] Incident-Based Event Report, Complaint No. 11127XXX, August 26, 2011 (reported August 28, 2011), on file at Human Rights Watch.

[272] Human Rights Watch notes from review of MPD investigative files, SX11-XXX, August 21, 2012.

[273] Incident-Based Event Report, Complaint No. 11100XXX, February 1, 2011 (reported July 12, 2011), on file at Human Rights Watch.

[274] Incident-Based Event Report, Complaint No. 11155XXX, October 23, 2011, on file at Human Rights Watch.

[275] Incident-Based Event Report, Complaint No. 11173XXX, November 26, 2011, on file at Human Rights Watch.

[276] Incident-Based Event Report, Complaint No. 10050XXX, April 17, 2010, on file at Human Rights Watch.

[277] Incident-Based Event Report, Complaint No. 11141XXX, September 26, 2011, on file at Human Rights Watch.

[278] Human Rights Watch notes from review of MPD investigative files, SX11-XXX, August 21, 2012.

[279] Incident-Based Event Report, Complaint No. 11177XXX, December 4, 2011, on file at Human Rights Watch.

[280] Human Rights Watch notes from review of MPD investigative files, SX11-XXX, August 21, 2012.

[281] Incident-Based Event Report, Complaint No. 11094XXX, July 1, 2011, on file at Human Rights Watch.

[282] Human Rights Watch notes from review of MPD investigative files, SX11-XXX, August 21, 2012.

[283] Incident-Based Event Report, Complaint No. 139XXX, October 1, 2008, on file at Human Rights Watch.

[284] Incident-Based Event Report, Complaint No. 10163XXX, November 11, 2010, on file at Human Rights Watch.

[285] Incident-Based Event Report, Complaint No. 106XXX, July 29, 2009, on file at Human Rights Watch.

[286] Incident-Based Event Report, Complaint No. 10050XXX, April 17, 2010, on file at Human Rights Watch.

[287] Incident-Based Event Report, Complaint No. 013XXX, January 25, 2008, on file at Human Rights Watch.

[288] Incident-Based Event Report, Complaint No. 073XXX, May 29, 2008 (reported May 30, 2011), on file at Human Rights Watch.

[289] Incident-Based Event Report, Complaint No. 11025XXX, February 24, 2011, on file at Human Rights Watch.

[290] Human Rights Watch notes from review of MPD investigative files, SX09-XXX, August 22, 2012.

[291] Letter from Chief Lanier to Human Rights Watch, December 20, 2012, on file at Human Rights Watch.

[292] Criminal Investigations Division, Metropolitan Police Department, Division Memorandum, “Sexual Assault Investigations,” June 12, 2012, p.3.

[293] Metropolitan Police Department, Sexual Assault Unit SOP, p. 59.

[294] The Washington Post found that 15 percent of homicides in the District between 2000 and 2011 were closed as “administrative” closures without an arrest, and each is counted the same as “an arrest” in closure statistics. Cheryl Thompson, “D.C. homicides: In 15 percent of closed cases, no charges and no arrests,” The Washington Post, October 14, 2012.

[295] Human Rights Watch telephone interview with S.R., assistant US attorney, Washington, D.C., September 18, 2012. The prosecutor also indicated that for sexual assaults, “it is not about closure rates, it is about serving victims,” emphasizing the need to reward detectives who treat victims well, regardless of the outcome of the case.

[296] Federal Bureau of Investigations, Uniform Crime Reports, “Offenses Cleared,” http://www.fbi.gov/about-us/cjis/ucr/crime-in-the-u.s/2010/crime-in-the-u.s.-2010/clearances (accessed October 24, 2012); see also Cassia Spohn and Katharine Tellis, “Policing and Prosecuting Sexual Assault in Los Angeles City and County: A Collaborative Study in Partnership with the Los Angeles Police Department, the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department, and the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office,” Document No. 237582,  US Department of Justice Aware Number 2009-WG-BX-0009, February 2012, https://www.ncjrs.gov/pdffiles1/nij/grants/237582.pdf (October 24, 2012), p. IV.

[297] Federal Bureau of Investigations, US Department of Justice, “Uniform Crime Reporting Handbook 2004.” http://www.fbi.gov/about-us/cjis/ucr/additional-ucr-publications/ucr_handbook.pdf (accessed January 10, 2013), p. 80. Current guidelines are not clear about how to “clear” or “close” cases that have been thoroughly investigated but declined for prosecution. In those cases, it may be acceptable to clear a case exceptionally even though an arrest is theoretically possible. Cases that have not been thoroughly investigated, however, should not be cleared exceptionally. To help clarify ambiguities, some experts believe the FBI should consider further revising UCR clearance categories to be brought in line with current practice. In addition to disaggregating “arrest” and “exceptional clearance” data, tracking cases on the basis of prosecutorial outcome would provide the public with more meaningful information on what ultimately happens to sexual assault cases reported in communities. Sgt. Joanne Archambault and Kimberly Lonsway, “Police Clearance Methods: How Are They Currently Defined—and How Should They Be Used?” Sexual Assault Report, volume 15, number 4, 2012, pp. 53-58, 63.

[298] Human Rights Watch email correspondence with Jennifer Long, director, Aequitas: The Prosecutors’ Resource on Violence Against Women, October 24, 2012; Human Rights Watch telephone interview with Sgt. Joanne Archambault, September 25, 2012.

[299] Cassia C. Spohn et al., “Prosecutors’ Charging Decisions in Sexual Assault Cases: A Multi-Site Study, Final Report,”  Document No. 197048, US Department of Justice Award Number 98-WT-VX-0003, October 28, 2002, pp. 23-24.

[300] In some cases, the police may discourage a victim from cooperating. It is not always possible to determine from notes in the file whether this has occurred, but the section on “Discouraging Reporting” includes some examples in which police actions may have resulted in victims no longer cooperating.

[301] Some cases were investigated as first degree sex abuse but downgraded to misdemeanors by prosecutors. For example, one warrant request specified that “the complainant was forced to have oral and vaginal sex with D” and was investigated as a first degree sex abuse case, but a warrant was issued for a misdemeanor. Human Rights Watch notes from review of MPD investigative files, SX10-XXX, August 22, 2012.

[302] Email correspondence from former prosecutor to Human Rights Watch, October 17, 2012, on file at Human Rights Watch.

[303] See Cassia Spohn and Katharine Tellis, “Policing and Prosecuting Sexual Assault in Los Angeles City and County: A Collaborative Study in Partnership with the Los Angeles Police Department, the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department, and the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office,” Document No. 237582, US Department of Justice Aware Number 2009-WG-BX-0009, February 2012, https://www.ncjrs.gov/pdffiles1/nij/grants/237582.pdf, p.131. 

[304] Ibid., pp. 142-43, 190, 277.

[305] Ibid., pp. 405-406.

[306] The report found the that clearance rate for the Los Angeles Police Department from 2005-2009 was 45.7 percent, with 12.2 percent cleared by arrest and 33.5 percent cleared by exceptional means. For the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department, the report found an 88.3 percent clearance rate for the same period, with 33.9 percent cleared by arrest and 54.4 percent cleared by exceptional means. Ibid., pp. I-II.

[307] Federal Bureau of Investigations, Uniform Crime Reports, Table 25, “Percent of Offenses Cleared by Arrest or Exceptional Means, By Population Group,” http://www.fbi.gov/stats-services/crimestats (accessed November 16, 2012). The average clearance rate for cities with populations between 500,000 and 1,000,000 for forcible rape was 41.6 percent in 2008; for 2010, 40.6 percent, and for 2011, 40.1 percent.

[308] Letter from Metropolitan Police Department to Phil Mendelson, council member, February 24, 2012, p.12.

[309] D.C. reported the following number of rapes under the UCR: 192 (2007), 186 (2008), 150 (2009), 184 (2010), 172 (2011). However, this number may include assaults on juveniles and exclude assaults other than forcible male penile penetration of a female vagina. For the same time period, the D.C. Code Index Crimes shows the following number of sexual assaults: 142 (2007), 156 (2008), 134 (2009), 149 (2010), 174 (2011). Letter from Metropolitan Police Department to Phil Mendelson, council member, p. 2.

[310] Arrest data from October 2008 through May 31, 2011, provided to Human Rights Watch, on file at Human Rights Watch.

[311] Letter from Chief Lanier to Human Rights Watch, December 20, 2012, on file at Human Rights Watch.

[312] Human Rights Watch telephone interviews with C.L., assistant US attorney, Washington D.C., September 18, 2012; and with S.R., assistant US attorney, Washington, D.C., September 18, 2012.

[313] Human Rights Watch notes from review of MPD investigative files, SA11-XXX, August 21, 2012.

[314] Human Rights Watch notes from review of MPD investigative files, SX09-XXX, August 22, 2012.

[315] Human Rights Watch notes from review of MPD investigative files, SX11-XXX, August 21, 2012.

[316] Human Rights Watch notes from review of MPD investigative files, SX10-XXX, August 22, 2012.

[317] Human Rights Watch notes from review of MPD investigative files, SX11-XXX, August 22, 2012.

[318] Human Rights Watch telephone interviews with C.L., assistant US attorney, Washington D.C., September 18, 2012; and with E.M., assistant US attorney, Washington D.C., September 19, 2012.

[319] Human Rights Watch telephone interviews with M.G., assistant US attorney, Washington D.C., September 19, 2012; and with E.M., assistant US attorney, Washington D.C., September 19, 2012.

[320] Human Rights Watch telephone interviews with C.L., assistant US attorney, Washington D.C., September 18, 2012; with E.A., assistant US attorney, Washington D.C., September 18, 2012; and with E.M., assistant US attorney, Washington D.C., September 19, 2012.

[321] Human Rights Watch telephone interviews with attorney A.J., March 22, 2011; and with staff member J.Z, June 6, 2012.

[322] Human Rights Watch group interview with sexual assault survivors (including Estella C.), Washington, D.C., September 30, 2011.

[323] Human Rights Watch notes from review of MPD investigative files, SA10-XXX, August 21, 2012.

[324] Human Rights Watch group interview with sexual assault survivors (including Estella C.), Washington, D.C., September 30, 2011.

[325]Human Rights Watch notes from review of MPD investigative files, SA10-XXX, August 21, 2012.

[326] Human Rights Watch interview with K.V., Washington, D.C., March 28, 2011; Human Rights Watch email correspondence with V.S., April 19, 2012.

[327] Human Rights Watch group interview with sexual assault survivors (including Susan D.), Washington D.C., September 30, 2011.

[328] Human Rights Watch telephone interview with Maya T. (pseudonym), May 10, 2011; Complaint form, Office of Police Complaints, May 9, 2011 (provided by Maya T.); narrative of events provided by Maya T., on file at Human Rights Watch.

[329] Human Rights Watch notes from review of MPD investigative files, SA11-XXX, August 22, 2012.

[330] Human Rights Watch telephone interview with Shelly G. (pseudonym), Washington, D.C., October 12, 2012.

[331] Incident-Based Event Report, Complaint No. 132XXX, September 15, 2009, on file at Human Rights Watch.

[332] Human Rights Watch notes from review of MPD investigative files, SX09-XXX, August 22, 2012.

[333] Letter to Human Rights Watch from Chief Lanier, December 20, 2012

[334] Human Rights Watch telephone interview with Shelly G. (pseudonym), June 18, 2012.

[335] Human Rights Watch telephone interview with Shelly G. (pseudonym), October 12, 2012.

[336] Human Rights Watch telephone interview with Shelly G. (pseudonym), June 18, 2012.

[337] Human Rights Watch telephone interview with Shelly G., October 12, 2012.

[338] Human Rights Watch telephone interview with Shelly G., October 12, 2012.

[339] Human Rights Watch telephone interview with Matt K. (pseudonym), October 18, 2012.

[340] Human Rights Watch notes from review of MPD investigative files, SA09-XXX, August 22, 2012.

[341]Human Rights Watch telephone interview with Shelly G., Washington, D.C., October 12, 2012.

[342] Human Rights Watch interview with Shelly G., Washington D.C., August 21, 2012.

[343] Human Rights Watch notes from review of MPD investigative files, SA09-XXX, August 22, 2012, on file at Human Rights Watch.

[344]Ibid.

[345]Ibid.

[346] Human Rights Watch telephone interview with Shelly G., June 18, 2012.

[347] Human Rights Watch email correspondence with Shelly G., November 1, 2012.