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Sexual assault victim claims MCSO failed to do its job

Reported by: Josh Bernstein
Email: jbernstein@abc15.com
Last Update: 5/21 8:42 pm
Video Click the play button on the video window to the right to see the story

A team of attorneys claim the Maricopa County Sheriff's Office is improperly clearing cases.

Eight years ago, when Abigail Brown was just 14 years old, she claims she was sexually assaulted by several of her high school classmates.

"My life in high school, pretty much became unbearable, so I ended up dropping out," said Brown at a press conference Thursday morning.

Brown says the alleged assault was reported to the Maricopa County Sheriff's Office.

"The investigation never produced any action, but only left me more exposed and unprotected to the men that were involved," Brown said.

That's because the former Valley resident claims detectives failed to properly investigate her case.

Brown and her team of attorneys say the case was "exceptionally cleared."

That's a technical term that means a suspect or suspects has been identified, but for some "exceptional" reason could not be charged.

"One example is because the suspect is dead or is currently incarcerated and can not be extradited," said Clint Bolick an attorney with the Goldwater Institute in Phoenix, Arizona.

Bolick has teamed up with Brown's attorneys to challenge the Maricopa County Sheriff's Office policy of exceptionally clearing cases.

They claim, "75 percent of the cases cleared by MCSO are cleared by exception."

According to records obtained from the Maricopa County Sheriff's Office, Bolick said, "Only 18 percent of the cases cleared by MCSO were cleared by arrest."

Bolick went on to say, "that is simply absurd."

In a statement to ABC15, the Sheriff's Office claimed, "The Goldwater Institute’s report cites the FBI’s Uniform Code Reporting handbook, which is a voluntary crime-reporting program to compile statistical information and reports. The UCR is not intended for oversight on how law enforcement agencies clear cases."

The statement goes on to state, "The Sheriff’s Office has its own criteria for clearing cases. We are currently looking into the example case given by the Goldwater Institute. At first glance, it appears that this case appropriately falls under the specified criteria for “exceptionally cleared”, however the Office cannot intelligently comment on this case until we have had time to review the facts of the case."

Meanwhile, Abigail Brown and her team of attorneys are demanding a review of all exceptionally cleared cases by the Maricopa County Sheriff's Office.

They are also calling on state lawmakers to require all law enforcement agencies to annually report the number of cases cleared by exception.

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