- Associated Press - Tuesday, August 18, 2015

CHICAGO (AP) - A Chicago suburb accused of mishandling years of rape investigations has settled several lawsuits with women over the alleged shortcomings, officials said Tuesday.

Seven women - six of whom were minors at the time they reported being assaulted - filed lawsuits in federal court against Harvey’s police department and former chief Andrew Joshua, alleging a failure to submit rape kits for testing violated their constitutional rights to due process and equal protection.

In one case, the lawsuit alleges a lapse by Harvey police allowed a Cook County correctional officer continue to molest his stepdaughter for years. Harvey agreed to pay the victim $1.2 million. A second case, involving two women, was settled for $241,250. Figures for a third case, involving four women, were not released.

Harvey is expected to pay more than half the amount in monthly installments, until 2019. Insurers will pay the rest.

In addition to the payments, the settlement also requires the city to upgrade training of police officers in how to handle sexual assaults as well as how to properly report statistics to the state police.

A victim’s attorney, Yao Dinizulu, said after a Tuesday hearing that the settlement builds on efforts to push reforms.

“We’ve been able to put the type of pressure to allow Harvey to change,” Dinizulu said.

Harvey attorney Benjamin Jacobi also said in a court filing last week the settlement’s terms represented a significant step by the city.

“Not only are the plaintiffs receiving a lot of money to benefit them each personally, but the citizens of Harvey are obtaining an obligation from Harvey to provide more training and awareness to sexual assault cases,” Jacobi wrote.

Harvey spokesman Sean Howard said in a statement Tuesday that the suburb was “hopeful that these settlements will bring some closure and comfort to these victims of horrific acts.” Howard noted the city isn’t acknowledging any wrongdoing and chose to settle the cases to avoid potentially higher costs of continuing litigation.

Though the total of unexamined rape discovered in the Chicago suburbs of Harvey and nearby Robbins numbered in the dozens compared to the thousands found in other cities such as Detroit and Cleveland, Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan has been vocal on the issue.


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