Friday, February 12, 2016

"Start By Believing" Fails a Ft. Benning Soldier and a Rape Victim

We previously wrote how "Start By Believing" failed a Ft. Benning Soldier and a woman who accused him of rape here.  Emilie Arroyo, a reporter at the local Columbus, Georgia ABC affiliate, WTVM, aired an exclusive interview with the falsely accused Soldier last night.  

One piece of missing information was that after the Soldier was cleared by DNA evidence, immediately released, and the Assistant District Attorney (ADA) had the charges no-billed by the grand jury, Columbus Police Department (CPD) kept the Soldier on their records as a suspect for the December 2014 rape until July 22, 2015 because they needed to conduct further "testing."  This caused the Soldier to remain flagged with the Army because technically he was a rape suspect.  He could not be promoted, he could not attend training to progress his career, he could not receive any awards, and he could not apply to flight school and become a Warrant Officer.  His career was placed on hold, and CPD knew it.

Perhaps, CPD kept the Soldier as a suspect because they do not understand how DNA works.  When CPD was contacted by the ADA on March 5, 2015, the day the Soldier was released, a detective stated that he understood why the Soldier had to be released immediately, but he asked the ADA if they could get a search warrant for the Soldier's semen.  The Detective stated that semen DNA might be different from the DNA profile collected from other serological evidence, such as skin or saliva.  It would be interesting to see if the actor/rapper Ice T would know from his role on Law & Order: SVU that this notion is utterly absurd.

This is why the system failed the Soldier and the victim.   It is undetermined whether CPD pursued any other leads because she insisted it was the Soldier, even after the DNA analyst at the GBI crime lab said that the Soldier could not have raped her.  CPD is not talking, so an inference can be drawn that they were not looking at anybody else. 

Moreover, the police report states that her roommate believed she was very intoxicated when she came home on the night of the rape and that he did not hear anybody knock on the door, which the Soldier would have had to do to get let in by the victim.  A good question might have been, "Is there anyone else who had access to your house?" It has been reported that the man facing capital murder charges, the mother's boyfriend, had a key to the home. "Are you sure that you let the Soldier into the home, or are you just assuming he came over because of the texts he sent you?"  "Is it possible that a man went into your bedroom, which would have been pitch black, and tied you up and you could not see him?"  "Are you sure that you only had one beer and two shots of brown liquor to drink on the night of the rape?"

Instead, CPD remained focused on the Soldier for four additional months after he was released from jail, did not attempt to corroborate his story that he was at home in Phenix City, Alabama and did not leave his house on the night of the rape, and, instead, allowed him to by flagged under a cloud of suspicion by the Army that he was a suspected rapist for four long months.  And, now a man faces capital murder charges for a crime CPD might have been able to prevent. 

No wonder CPD will not speak to reporters like Emilie Arroyo.  She is a tough young reporter who is not afraid to take on law enforcement to find out if the system failed an innocent Soldier and a traumatized victim.