The steps Maricopa County, Az., sheriff’s investigators took — or failed to take — were placed under a microscope in Superior Court as a criminal trial got under way involving one of the hundreds of flawed sex-crime investigations sheriff’s deputies conducted in the past decade, reports the Arizona Republic. Attorneys for Ralph Carr, who has pleaded not guilty to nine counts of sexual abuse and assault, focused opening arguments on the lag time between when Carr’s alleged abuse victims made their initial reports and when investigators followed up with detailed interviews of the victims. That lag time permitted the young girls to be brainwashed by their families into believing Carr had molested them, the attorneys said.
“The problem was, when these accusations initially came down, they were not forensically interviewed, they were interviewed by amateurs,” said defense attorney Robert Billar. “Each interview that goes by was tainted, tainted by the parents.” An Arizona Republic investigation of more than 400 cases the Sheriff’s Office reopened because of improper investigation found that delays in conducting the vital forensic interviews were common in the understaffed special-victims unit. The Sheriff’s Office has since increased staff, added an electronic case-tracking system and increased training on investigation of sex crimes.