New Orleans Police Re-Examine Downgraded Sex Assault Cases


New Orleans police sex crimes detectives have begun reinvestigating 30 complaints about sexual assaults in 2009 that were previously sidelined by the department, treated not as criminal offenses but as incidents that weren’t really a crime, reports the New Orleans Times-Picayune. The new probes follow an internal review and an outside audit by the Louisiana Commission on Law Enforcement that determined 32 percent of the 93 complaints categorized in 2009 by the sex crimes unit as “miscellaneous incidents” were improperly downgraded,

Questions have swirled around the NOPD practice of writing up a large number of sexual assault complaints as “Signal 21s” — the alternative category for a noncriminal complaint — for more than a year. The Times-Picayune reported last year that 60 percent of the 2008 complaints of possible sexual assault were written up under the Signal 21 designation. Judy Benitez of the Louisiana Foundation Against Sexual Assault said some victims could embrace the police department’s offer to re-examine old cases, particularly those who can handle it emotionally. “It may be something that they feel like they aren’t able to handle,” she said.

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