“If there were any victims, I apologize to those victims.” Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio’s Dec. 5 dismissive response to questions about his not investigating 432 sex crimes.
Based on my experience investigating over 200 felony sex crimes and court qualification as an expert, I concur with the FBI’s research that only approximately 8 percent of reported sex crimes are unfounded.
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Based on 432 reported sex crimes — and utilizing the average that go unfounded — there were 398 victims, mostly women and children, who Arpaio failed. Some estimates also indicate that as many of half of all sex crimes go unreported.
Arizona Revised Statutes 11-441 — Powers and Duties of the Sheriff — require Arpaio to “Arrest and take before the nearest magistrate for examination all persons who attempt to commit or who have committed a public offense.”
Most murderers commit a single crime. Sex offenders usually continue to commit crimes until they’re captured. It’s not uncommon for them to have dozens of victims.
Sex offenders often move from jurisdiction to jurisdiction. Arpaio’s failure to properly investigate hundreds of sex crimes has put all Arizona citizens in danger.
The sheriff’s faux apology becomes even more disingenuous when you know that the investigative failures were reported directly to Arpaio in a 2008 letter from then El Mirage police chief Mike Frazier. Frazier told Arpaio, “Many of the cases had known suspects. More than 90 percent of the cases had workable leads. The majority of these cases involved small children and young teens as victims.”
While Arpaio was pooh-poohing public concerns, he forgot to mention how convicted child rapist Adrian Cruz walked out of a 2009 Superior Court trial while in custody. Cruz was already serving 120 years in prison for raping a 9-year-old girl and was standing trial for attacks on two more children. Cruz has yet to be captured. No telling how many more children this predatory scum has attacked thanks another one of Arpaio’s failures.
Arpaio’s statement that he’s now going to bring in experts to fix what’s broken also rings hollow. Had he really cared, he would have fixed what was broken years ago. Things should’ve never been broken to begin with. Investigating sex crimes properly isn’t a mystery.
All Arpaio needs to do is follow the “Multidisciplinary Protocol for the investigation of Child Abuse” he signed on July 9, 2004, and adopt the established methods that have been in place at the Mesa Police Department Sex Crimes Unit’s Family Advocacy Center since 1996 and have been successfully adopted statewide.
Arpaio’s history of policing failures has been well documented. The East Valley Tribune’s July 2008 Pulitzer Prize-winning series “Reasonable Doubt” pointed out Arpaio’s failure to investigate sex crimes and how Arpaio’s myopic focus on publicity generating pet projects stole resources from protecting the county. The Goldwater Institute’s December 2008 report “Mission Unaccomplished: The Misplaced Priorities of the Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office,” concluded: “The MCSO is responsible for vitally important law-enforcement functions. It defines its core missions as law-enforcement services, support services, and detention. MCSO falls seriously short of fulfilling its mission. Although MCSO is adept at self-promotion and under its watch violent crime rates recently have soared.” The MCSO rape investigation I reviewed for the Goldwater study was a travesty of justice. The victim was persecuted and the rapist escaped justice.
In my 2009 columns -- "The numbers don’t match Arpaio’s hype" and "Arpaio’s antics fail to stop crime" -- I used the sheriff’s records to show that not only is he failing when it comes to violent crime, his immigration enforcement efforts are equally pitiful.
When Arpaio was first elected in 1992 he campaigned on the current sheriff’s mishandling of a mass murder investigation. With reports of Arpaio mishandling 432 sex crimes investigations, it’s painfully obvious we are right back where we were 20 years ago: we’ve still got a sheriff who can’t do the job right.
The inability of MCSO to protect county residents, especially women and children, rests solely with Arpaio and no one else.
Retired Mesa master police officer Bill Richardson lives in the East Valley and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.