X

Thank you for sharing!

Your article was successfully shared with the contacts you provided.
The Atlanta Police Department will deliver 14 boxes of documents to the Fulton County district attorney’s office this week, allowing the DA to moveforward with an investigation that began six months ago into allegedunderreporting of rapes. Still to be resolved is a potential conflict of interest within the DA’s office. One of the office’s top investigators was a deputy chief at the APD and supervised the commander of the Sex Crimes Unit when the rapes allegedly were underreported. That investigator, Carter B. Jackson, chose not to discipline the officer in charge of the Sex Crimes Unit, but instead reassigned him. Separate from the rape investigation, a retired police official has accused Jackson of playing a “major role” in underreporting crimes in 1996 and 1997. Asked how he’ll handle the potential conflict of interest created by Jackson’s involvement, DA Paul L. Howard Jr. said, “We have not reached that point.” The DA’s public integrity unit will handle the case. In addition to the obvious public safety issues, failure to process rapereports properly and to forward the information to the Georgia CrimeInformation Center may constitute a violation of O.C.G.A. � 35-3-36 (i),which requires police departments to submit crime data to the state. The statute does not list a specific penalty for its violation, but aspokesman for the DA’s office said one possible sanction would be gettingfired from a law enforcement agency. If any physical evidence from the unreported cases was destroyed or thrownaway, state law provides penalties for such actions. The destruction of physical evidence from a rape case carries a minimum sentence of one year and a maximum of 10 years behind bars, O.C.G.A. � 16-10-94. The possibility of underreporting crime in Atlanta was further amplified by a report issued last month by the Atlanta Police Foundation. Nearly half of the APD officers surveyed said they believe reports are changed to show lower levels of crime. According to the APF report, Chief Richard J. Pennington ordered an audit ofall crime reports from 2002, and the revised data indicated the number ofrapes was 17.8 percent higher than previously reported. The number ofrobberies was 2 percent higher, and aggravated assaults were 10 percenthigher. A SECRET FILE An anonymous letter sent in 2001 to then-Capt. Lou Arcangeli, who since has retired, touched off the latest investigation into the APD’s reporting of rapes. The letter alleged that patrol officers and investigators in the Sex CrimesUnit maintained a secret file of rape reports that were not investigatedunless the victim returned to complete a follow-up report. According to Arcangeli, the officers placed a rape report into the secretfile if the victim did not appear credible or would be difficult to find inthe future. Many of the women in the latter category were homeless orprostitutes, Arcangeli said. In a May 2001 letter to the APD’s Office of Professional Standards,Arcangeli wrote that Jackson; Lt. Terrence Steele, then the commander of theSex Crimes Unit; and “other members of the Atlanta Police Department” mighthave violated department rules as well as state law by not investigating andproperly processing rape reports. In addition, Arcangeli wrote, the physical evidence obtained during initialrape reports wasn’t always forwarded to the Georgia Bureau of Investigation’s crime lab, where investigators often use a DNA database to track downserial rapists. Arcangeli said a May 2000 rape of a 14-year-old girl, who was assaulted byseveral suspects and treated at Hughes Spalding Children’s Hospital,languished in the secret file for several months. TRANSFERRED, NOT PUNISHED When the alleged underreporting of rapes became public, Jackson transferredSteele, the commander of the Sex Crimes Unit, to another division. Arcangeli then complained to the Office of Professional Standards aboutJackson’s handling of the case. In response to Arcangeli’s complaint, the commander of the Office ofProfessional Standards, Maj. S.M. O’Brien, wrote that 34 reports in the SexCrimes Unit’s files had not been forwarded to the Central Records Unit andnever were investigated. In some of those cases, physical evidence in theform of rape kits had not been sent to the GBI. The letter from O’Brien went on to address Jackson’s recommendation tothen-Police Chief Beverly J. Harvard that Steele be transferred to anotherdivision. “The Atlanta Police Department allows its managers a certain amount ofdiscretion in the manner in which administrative issues and problems areresolved,” O’Brien wrote. “In this case, Deputy Chief Jackson chose toaddress this issue outside the disciplinary arena, which he has authority todo. Therefore, the Office of Professional Standards will not open a separateinvestigation into this issue.” However, the incident did not end there. Chief Pennington later ordered aninternal investigation into the reporting of rape cases from 2001, andArcangeli was asked to submit a statement. In that statement, he accusedHarvard of refusing to accept or investigate his original complaint ofpolice misconduct. “In my opinion, Harvard’s assignment of Jackson to investigate his owndivision and himself was an obvious breach of the chief’s professionalresponsibility,” wrote Arcangeli. “By reassigning the complaint of sex crimeunderreporting, Chief Harvard actively subverted the internal investigationprocess, protected the Criminal Investigations Division commandersresponsible and once again failed to protect victims of sex crimes.” Jackson came to work at the Fulton DA’s office in February 2002. As directorof intelligence and special investigations, he is responsible for collectinginformation on illegal drugs, gang activity, hate groups, organized crimeand the underground sex industry. He also heads the Illegal Guns Unit andinvestigates so-called “cold” homicide cases. He declined a request to comment for this story. Howard said Jackson is not involved with the office’s investigation into thereporting of rapes and does not investigate rape cases at the DA’s office. BRINGING IN THE DA Chief Pennington sent the first batch of materials from the internal investigation, about three binders’ worth, to the DA’s office in September, along with a request to investigate the reporting of rapes in 2001. “Then we learned there was the lion’s share [of materials] we did not have,”said Erik Friedly, a spokesman for the DA’s office. UNDERREPORTING AN OLD PROBLEM Arcangeli had a similar complaint against Harvard years earlier. He accused her of not assigning the Office of Professional Standards to investigate the department’s underreporting of crimes in 1996 and 1997. He said Jackson had a “major role” in that incident as well. An audit conducted by the GBI and reviewed by the FBI revealed 573 robberiesand 115 rapes that were not included in the APD’s crime statistics for thoseyears, the retired police officer said. “Despite the findings of the GBI and the FBI, there were no sanctions, disciplinary actions, letters of reprimand or to my knowledge even a singlenegative reference in any employee’s performance evaluation,” Arcangeliwrote. Harvard, who now serves as assistant federal security director atHartsfield-Jackson International Airport, did not return a phone messageseeking comment for this story. Howard said part of the reason there has been little movement in theinvestigation is that the lead attorney, Phyllis Clerk, has been busy withthe federal case against John D. Woodard and his wife, Debra B. Woodard.The Woodards are accused of forcing people to pay a fee in order to recoverproperty seized by the APD. The Woodards’ trial continues this week in U.S.District Court.

This content has been archived. It is available exclusively through our partner LexisNexis®.

To view this content, please continue to Lexis Advance®.

Not a Lexis Advance® Subscriber? Subscribe Now

Why am I seeing this?

LexisNexis® is now the exclusive third party online distributor of the broad collection of current and archived versions of ALM's legal news publications. LexisNexis® customers will be able to access and use ALM's content by subscribing to the LexisNexis® services via Lexis Advance®. This includes content from the National Law Journal®, The American Lawyer®, Law Technology News®, The New York Law Journal® and Corporate Counsel®, as well as ALM's other newspapers, directories, legal treatises, published and unpublished court opinions, and other sources of legal information.

ALM's content plays a significant role in your work and research, and now through this alliance LexisNexis® will bring you access to an even more comprehensive collection of legal content.

For questions call 1-877-256-2472 or contact us at [email protected]

 
 

ALM Legal Publication Newsletters

Sign Up Today and Never Miss Another Story.

As part of your digital membership, you can sign up for an unlimited number of a wide range of complimentary newsletters. Visit your My Account page to make your selections. Get the timely legal news and critical analysis you cannot afford to miss. Tailored just for you. In your inbox. Every day.

Copyright © 2020 ALM Media Properties, LLC. All Rights Reserved.