Exclusive: MCSO Sex Crimes Internal Investigation Reports Online
Portions of the Maricopa County Sheriff's Office's 10,000-page sex-crimes internal investigation are now available online following a New Times records request.
When the massive report was released to the news media and public on February 8, the agency at first refused New Times' request to put it on a CD. Instead, the office insisted that reporters could either come to MCSO and electronically scan in the paper copy -- or pay the standard rate of 50 cents a page for the report, for a total of $5,000.
New Times pressed the issue, reminding the agency that, under a state Supreme Court ruling on Arizona's public record's law, electronic public records possessed by governmental agencies must release them in electronic format, if so requested.
We're happy to report that MCSO relented, to an extent, and released the documents linked below.
This isn't the whole report. Missing are some of the older reports and interview transcripts prepared by Bruce Tucker, the investigator first assigned the internal investigation back in 2008. (However, Tucker's case log was released -- it ends, as previously reported, in 2009 when Hendershott asked him to stop working on the internal affairs investigation because it might interfere with the sheriff's investigation of former Maricopa Schools Superintendent Sandra Dowling.)
What we did get, and what may be worth your time to peruse, is a 160-page case summary and several full interviews with some of the sex-crimes deputies and their supervisors. We haven't reviewed all of this stuff yet, so feel free to point out anything interesting.
Some of the most powerful portions of what you'll see here are the complaints about systemic, organizational and leadership problems that went almost all the way to the top. "Almost," because Arpaio isn't called out for his lack of leadership, but his disgraced, former chief deputy, Dave Hendershott, gets heaps of blame for the problem.
That problem, it's worth adding, was MCSO's worst scandal in Arpaio's 20-year history as sheriff. (Here's another link to our 2012 feature article on the sex-cirmes scandal.)
Dozens of sex-crimes cases were mishandled. Victims -- often children -- went without help or justice. Perpetrators were free to commit new sex crimes, and sometimes did.
Former MCSO Captain Brian Beamish, who acted as police chief for El Mirage under the 2007 contract to provide the town with police services, told an investigator in June of 2011 that the sex-crimes unit was "buried" with too much work -- even before 2007.
Hendershott, to whom Arpaio had handed over the reins of the sheriff's office, pushed for the contract - worth millions to MCSO - and "never factored in the additional manpower needed to cover the extra responsibilities," Beamish said.
He estimated at the time that another 60,000 calls per year would come into MCSO's dispatch center, overwhelming it.
When confronted by Beamish about the looming problems, Hendershott reportedly said, "'We'll authorize overtime. This will all work out.'"
But it didn't.
As we wrote in our 2011 feature article about corruption and problems under Arpaio's watch, abuse of overtime pay was a routine matter for Hendershott.
Beamish also echoes some of the details New Times mentioned in our comprehensive article on the sex-crimes scandal. Beamish told investigators that the MCSO's sex-crimes unit had four detectives before the agency took on the El Mirage responsibilities, and four after. But sometimes, even fewer deputies were available to work sex-crimes cases.
From the summary report, Pages 51-59:
Brian explained that he had also been tasked with helping to put together the MCSO training trip to Honduras. While the SVU was already short-handed, Brian stated they were further tasked with giving up Detectives Rojas and Brooks to help his group put together training manuals for the Honduras trip. [Link not in original.]
Both detectives, according to Brian, were not available for SVU details for several months. He indicated that regardless of who was aware of the staffing deficiencies in the chain of command from Sgt Seagraves to Chief Freeman, the majority of the decisions made regarding staffing levels at that time were made "directly by the Chief Deputy" (Hendershott).
BEAMISH: I mean 100 percent I would stand on a stack of Bibles and swear in front of the Supreme Court that Chief Hendershott made those calls. He was aware of the shortages. He was aware of the potential problems. We pointed those things out to him in advance and said you're gonna, there's no way this is gonna work.
BEAMISH:And he would do things like you know pull his glasses to the bottom of his nose and, and bark at you like you know hey, let's just pretend fora fucking moment that I'm the Chief Deputy..
While Hendershott gets heaps of blame in this new report, none of this gets Arpaio off the hook. As our blog post from last week explained, Arpaio claims he'd turned over the reins of the agency to Hendershott. Whether you believe that or not, either way it's a terrible reflection of Arpaio's leadership.
Arpaio, by the way, told us last week he still delegates operations of his office to his chief deputy, now Jerry Sheridan.
When Licking asked Beamish if he put his concerns about the sex-crime unit's manpower in writing, Beamish explained to him that Hendershott discouraged that sort of thing:
"Okay, well, you can, you can talk around and ask people. He was very big on don't write anything to me. Um, it was very specific I don't want a paper trail on anything."
As our exclusive video of Arpaio's testimony from last year's Joel Fox termination appeal hearing shows, Hendershott was just following Arpaio's lead on the issue of written documentation.
Arpaio explains in his videotaped testimony that he never wrote memos or emails, and didn't ever require Hendershott to put anything in writing.
See, Arpaio doesn't like paper trails, either. And still doesn't - even though he admitted to county lawyer at the hearing that he "probably should" put things in writing.
In Lieutenant Hank Brandimarte's interview with Licking, Brandimarte explained the difficulties of trying to deal with Kim Seagraves, the sergeant over the sex-crimes unit, when she was engaged to Terry Young, then the deputy chief over internal affairs:
Now on another occasion, uh, I walk in. She has a large crock pot with, uh, barbeque beef in it, which I thought was funny because we weren't havin' a pot luck so I asked her about it. And she said well, this is for Terry.
And I said well, what's, what's for Terry? Well, he's leaving for a weekend retreat on Dave Hendershott's boat, which was commonplace at the time.
You know as a supervisor when you piece all these things together, you worry about okay, if I, if I write her up or if I transfer her, what's the repercussion to me? And I think it has been established, um, there, there is, there was that was the culture of the organization at the time, which has since changed, uh, but it certainly it's a real fear to hold a subordinate accountable who's connected, married to a Chief who's connected to the Deputy Chief. And I, I think that's a, a, a real fear. Does that make an excuse? No, but I just think that it's important to note that interdynamics between people when you're trying to hold somebody accountable for substandard performance versus how is this gonna affect my career in the long run?
Um, I that that's all I can explain. Uh, you know I, I had to believe based on what she was tellin' me and what she knew and who she, uh, uh, referred to as a resource that what she was tellin' me was the truth and, uh, I just you know I could have pushed her, but I just didn't know how it would impact me. Subsequently, uh, you know it's one of those regrets that you have that that you try to see a bigger picture and it's not always as clear as you think it is. So I just thought that was important to note that, uh, while you could argue that that, uh, you know I failed on some level, uh, I, I think there were other issues at play within the organization and, and it's culture at that time.
Seagraves, who was promoted from sergeant to lieutenant while she was being investigated for alleged incompetence, threatened to sue the agency if she was held solely responsible for the sex-crimes problems. Supervisors decided last year to punish Seagraves and several other deputies for not following procedures, improperly storing evidence and other problems.
You'll read about some of their screw-ups in these pages, but the actions of the lower-level employees still appear to reflect their poor management. The chaos was created from above -- as Deputy Chief Brian Sands noted in updated letters sent recently to the deputies who would have been disciplined. Sands told the employees that the problems were systemic and not the fault of any particular individuals. (For some reason, those letters weren't included with the recent release, either.)
The 71-page transcript of Seagrave's interview, for example, has an interesting passage that relates how the sex-crimes unit deputies were excited for a short time, believing that a child-abuse unit was going to be created, reducing their large workload. They were shown new cars that were to be used by the new unit, which would likely include some members of the existing sex-crimes unit. Seagraves says that when it became clear the unit, though funded by the county, wouldn't be created after all, they saw the vehicles go to Arpaio's pet project -- the Human Smuggling Unit.
We'll keep reading through this stuff over the next few days and let you know if we see anything else good.
Get the This Week's Top Stories Newsletter
Every week we collect the latest news, music and arts stories — along with film and food reviews and the best things to do this week — so that you’ll never miss Phoenix New Times' biggest stories.