Woman says New Orleans police closed rape case as consensual sex

Reuters News
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Posted: Nov 21, 2014 5:32 PM

By Jonathan Kaminsky

NEW ORLEANS (Reuters) - The lawyer for a woman who says her rape was dismissed by New Orleans police as consensual sex wants the case to be among the hundreds of mishandled sex crime and child abuse cases reopened by the department, she told a press conference on Friday.

New Orleans officials announced plans earlier this week to re-examine at least 271 cases that were not properly investigated by five detectives and to launch an internal investigation to determine what went wrong.

The cases are among hundreds more handled by the detectives, who have since been reassigned, that went uninvestigated between 2011 and 2013, a city inspector general's report released last week found.

The woman, who declined to give her name, appeared before reporters with her husband and her lawyer, Gloria Allred, a noted plaintiff's attorney, before entering a New Orleans police station to meet with officials handling the reopened cases.

"I am outraged that in 2014 this rape victim has been treated with such disrespect," Allred said before the meeting. "What has happened in New Orleans is a national scandal."

After meeting with police officials, Allred said they had committed to reopening her client's case and appeared to be taking it seriously.

The woman and her husband were in New Orleans for Mardi Gras from Texas when she was raped by a security guard in her hotel room while her husband was out, the woman said.

She reported the incident to police, was taken to a hospital and given a rape kit, and had bruises in several places on her body, she said. Blood was found in the room, she said.

A police detective took her statement and a week later called to say that police had identified the suspect through DNA but that they were closing the case because they had determined the sex was consensual.

New Orleans Police Commander Paul Noel, who is overseeing the reopened cases, said his team is committed to fully investigating the mishandled cases.

Allred declined to say whether she plans to file a civil suit in connection with the case.

(Editing by Eric Walsh)