Anti-Arpaio Ad Stretches Facts: "432 Sex Crimes Ignored" Not Accurate, (Though Truth Isn't Much Better)

After skewering Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio's fabrications in a recent political ad, we'd be remiss not to mention how a new anti-Arpaio ad bends the truth.

The powerful ad by Valley musician Devin Fleenor and Citizens for Professional Law Enforcement, which aired on TV for the first time yesterday, shows a girl recounting a sexual assault -- as the man's hand closes on her shoulder, implying he still hasn't been brought to justice.

"Sheriff Arpaio -- why didn't you do something?" the girl cries.

It was a clever and poignant way to show the pain suffered by the victims of Arpaio's scandal.

But the ad is weakened near the end with a falsity, displayed in bold letters, that the scandal involved "432 Sex Crimes Ignored -- 432 Victims Silenced."

See also- Sheriff Arpaio Distorts Truth in Ad About Sex-Crimes Investigations

See also- Joe Arpaio's Sex Crimes Debacle Eviscerated in New Video by Devin Fleenor

In fact, 432 cases were reopened after problems were discovered with the way they were investigated. Not all of those cases represent "ignored" investigations, and they don't represent a total of 432 victims.

When asked Fleenor about this today, he admitted that part of the ad is "loose interpretation" of the facts.

We have to give him credit -- he's more honest than Arpaio, who likely will never admit his ad on the sex-crimes screw-up is full of lies and distortions, (even though we proved it is.) Arpaio, if you'll recall, last year questioned whether any victims from his incompetent sex-crimes unit actually existed.

While Fleenor's ad misstates some facts, overall it's good representation of the horror of this scandal. Without question, dozens of sex-abuse victims suffered injustice -- and sometimes repeated attacks -- because of Arpaio's mismanagement.

According to an article in the Arizona Republic's new series on the bad sex-crimes investigations, 36 cases were not investigated at all. (The Sheriff's Office, apparently lying to cover its tracks, claims only 15 went uninvestigated.) More than 200 cases were missing supplemental reports, wrote the Repub's JJ Hensley, revealing a lack of follow-up by detectives.

As our in-depth story from February showed, (and which was first exposed in the "old" East Valley Tribune's Pulitzer-prize winning 2008 series), Arpaio let his sex-crimes unit founder as he put his efforts into pet projects like immigration enforcement and an anti-corruption task force that itself was corrupt.

As we know from our research from that article, the main story behind Fleenor's ad -- that of the abused girl let down by Arpaio -- symbolizes many other cases handled by the Sheriff's Office. We told you about one, for instance, in which a girl accused her father of molesting her in what authorities called a very credible and prosecutable case. But the Sheriff's Office never interviewed the girl's father, who would have been easy to find because at the time of the allegations, he was in an Arizona prison.

Arpaio's bungled sex-crimes cases are a tragedy that need no embellishment.

See the ad below:

KEEP PHOENIX NEW TIMES FREE... Since we started Phoenix New Times, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Phoenix, and we'd like to keep it that way. With local media under siege, it's more important than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" program, allowing us to keep offering readers access to our incisive coverage of local news, food and culture with no paywalls.
Ray Stern has worked as a newspaper reporter in Arizona for more than two decades. He's won numerous awards for his reporting, including the Arizona Press Club's Don Bolles Award for Investigative Journalism.