A group of Baltimore government and law enforcement representatives plans to conduct a systematic review of rape reports that have been deemed “unfounded” by police investigators, in response to news reports showing the city leads the nation in such cases, the Baltimore Sun reports. Part of a team created a year ago to investigate responses to sex crimes, the group was told by Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake to audit the city’s procedures and statistics related to rape cases after a Sun article pointed out the high rate of unfounded cases. The group’s leader said it will also look at individual rape cases to explore why they were deemed unfounded.
The group, composed of officials from the Police Department, prosecutors’ office, Mercy Hospital, and the victims advocacy group Turnaround Inc., will hold its first meeting on the subject July 8. A spokeswoman for the city State’s Attorney’s Office said statistics showing a high number of unfounded rape cases points to a longstanding struggle between the Police Department and the prosecutor’s office about who has “charging rights” in sexual abuse cases. With the exception of cases against police officers and teachers, the Baltimore’s state’s attorney office does not get involved until charges are filed by officers or detectives. “We have no way of knowing about these unfounded cases,” said spokeswoman Marty Burns. “This is something that creeps up periodically when someone shines a light.” Burns said nurses at Mercy Medical Center have shared concerns with the State’s Attorney’s Office of “strong-arm tactics” and coarse language from police while interviewing a victim.