El Mirage Rape Victim, 13, Decides Not to Pursue Case Dropped by Sheriff Arpaio's Office in '07

A 13-year-old girl whose molestation claims were ignored by the Maricopa County Sheriff's Office doesn't want to pursue her case, the girl's mother tells New Times.

We're not disclosing their names. But we mentioned the Chicago-area mother and daughter in our February 16 feature article about how Sheriff Joe Arpaio's misguided priorities led to numerous sex-crimes cases being poorly investigated.

In what police reports call a credible and "clearly prosecutable" case, the girl alleged in 2006 -- when she was 8 -- that her father had been molesting her for about two years. A detective from the Sheriff's Office interviewed the girl in 2007 but didn't bother to interview her father, who was sitting in an Arizona prison at the time because of a conviction for armed robbery.

The case was similar to dozens of others in El Mirage and elsewhere in the Valley that weren't worked by Arpaio's office from 2005 to 2007 -- even while the sheriff found time to dedicate immense time and manpower to projects like training police officers in Honduras. 

After the sheriff's office dropped the ball, El Mirage police tried to follow up. But as a report shows, El Mirage detectives in November of 2007 couldn't find the victim or her family. They put the case aside, still considering it "active."

New Times located a phone number for the family in Chicago while researching the February 16 article.

The victim's mother asked New Times to give her number to the cops, and that she and her daughter were ready to hold her ex-husband accountable.

A week or so after we passed along her number to El Mirage police, Detective Jerry Laird called us to say the woman hadn't returned a message.

We managed to get ahold of her last week. She'd gotten the message from El Mirage police, she said. But her daughter, after talking about the situation, decided she didn't want to move forward with a belated investigation and attempted prosecution.

She reiterated that her daughter was not recanting any part of her story, but "she's 13 now and she wants to put it past her," the woman said.

Five years ago, had the Sheriff's Office acted promptly, the case could have resulted in justice for the victim. Now it's too late.

The father, who we're also not naming, was released from prison in 2010 and still lives in the Valley.

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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.
Contact: Ray Stern