A portion of the 170 sexual assaults that an international human rights organization said in a recent report that the D.C. police department failed to investigate were incidents that occurred outside of the District and as a result were investigated by other law enforcement agencies, according to Police Chief Cathy L. Lanier.
Continuing to question the methodology used by Human Rights Watch in their blistering report — which accused the department of failing to investigate cases of sexual assault — Chief Lanier said the department has made some headway in identifying records that corresponded to the incidents in question.
"We found at least 18 cases that match that date that police reports were taken by other jurisdictions, so they wouldn't have been found in our records," Chief Lanier said Thursday on the WTOP Radio (FM 103.5) "Ask the Chief" program. "That doesn't mean we didn't document 18 cases. That means that those cases were documented by another agency. It's not unusual for victims to report to Washington Hospital Center that have been assaulted in another jurisdiction."
As part of its study, Human Rights Watch reviewed 480 cases in which a victim went to Washington Hospital Center between October 2008 and September 2011 and made a sexual assault report to police. The review found that in 170 cases no incident report was filed for the case, meaning no further investigation was completed.
The release of the study last month led to a dust-up between the police department and Human Rights Watch, with the department questioning the accuracy of the results and the organization citing cooperation issues it encountered with the department.
In addition to saying that 18 cases were handled by other jurisdictions, Chief Lanier said in a review of the 170 cases in question that another 20 cases were instances in which the victim who reported to Washington Hospital Center asked for no police involvement in their case.
"I can tell you 100 percent positive that there is not 170 cases over that four-year period that were not documented. I am positive of that," Chief Lanier said on the radio program.
Responding to reports earlier this week that the department was unearthing documentation of the cases in question, Human Rights Watch issued a statement saying it has not received any new documentation from the police department and questioning why that information was not handed over as part of the organization's research efforts.
"We find it deeply disturbing that the MPD did not produce these records sooner, and it still hasn't," said Alison Parker, director of the United States program at Human Rights Watch. "Human Rights Watch offered the MPD many opportunities to provide additional data or witnesses, and we have responded immediately to MPD requests for information about specific cases and data on which we were basing our findings."
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