News & Politics

Investigation Slams Minnesota Law Enforcement's Handling of Rape Cases

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Rape is a heinous, horrific crime. It’s also a difficult crime to prosecute, even when law enforcement and prosecutors do an outstanding job. Witnesses are rare and DNA evidence can’t prove there was no consent.

However, a report in the Minneapolis Star Tribune makes the case that Minnesota law enforcement is doing a terrible job.

The paper conducted an investigation of 1,000 recent rape cases. It claims the investigation “reveals chronic errors and investigative failings by Minnesota’s largest law enforcement agencies, including those in Minneapolis and St. Paul.”

It reports that in a quarter of all cases, the police never even assigned an investigator. In about a third of the cases, the investigator never interviewed the victim. And in about half of the cases, law enforcement failed to speak to potential witnesses.

The Star Tribune asked experienced police investigators from other states to look at the case files, and reports that those investigators found them to be just as troubling:

The Star Tribune also asked 13 veteran investigators from across the country to review more than 160 of the Minnesota case files. Combined, they found that police adequately handled just one in five cases.

“If homicides were handled this way, people would be appalled,” said retired Sgt. Elizabeth Donegan, who led sex crimes investigations in Austin, Texas.

I first came across this story via feminist website Jezebel, so I was ready to defend the police. I’ve written enough here at PJ Media on the topic of campus Title IX kangaroo courts with “guilty until proven innocent” proceedings. But these results appear strong, and are difficult to find fault with. An immediate, top-priority investigation is in order here.

Rape may be terribly difficult to investigate and prosecute, but a statewide failure to conduct a competent investigation in such a large percentage of cases has nothing to do with that. It instead points to a redirection of resources, perhaps in anticipation of failure. Women who have been raped deserve the best possible investigation that law enforcement can provide.