Washington, D.C., police failed to investigate at least 170 sexual assaults over a three-year period, a human rights group alleges in an analysis that Police Chief Cathy Lanier called fundamentally flawed and based on a misunderstanding of department data, the Washington Post reports. A report by Human Rights Watch concludes that one-third of 480 sexual assault cases reported to police by women treated at MedStar Washington Hospital Center from October 2008 to September 2011 were not documented in initial police reports or assigned a file number used for tracking.
Sara Darehshori, the report’s author, said she concluded that those cases, and perhaps many more, were closed without further review. “It’s the incident report that matters in terms of whether there’s an investigation,” Darehshori said. Lanier accused the group of “selectively using the facts” while “continuing to take anecdotal information out of context to suggest larger problems.” Lanier said police have made significant changes to the way reports of sexual assault are taken and classified and have improved training and added staff to the sexual assault unit in recent months. The number of sexual assaults in Washington rose 51 percent from 2011 to 2012. Lanier called accusations that D.C. officers treated victims poorly “a cheap shot.”