What we know about the investigation of a Cincinnati police officer for rape tests
CINCINNATI (WXIX) – Hamilton County Coroner Lakshmi Sammarco on Thursday answered important questions about how rape evidence is handled in the county, providing context for the inquest into a Cincinnati police officer accused of failing to investigate the rape.
Specific allegations against DPC agent Christopher Schroder remain unclear. Police chief Eliot Isaac on Wednesday confirmed a departmental investigation into the officer for “failing to do his job as an investigator.”
Hamilton County District Attorney Joe Deters said the allegations surround Schroder’s inaction on DNA rape test results.
The prosecution and the police are cooperating in the investigation.
So far, no charges have been filed. Schroder’s attorney says a legally binding plea agreement is in place for one count of dereliction of duty, but Deters disputes that notion.
The prosecutor spoke in both vague and broad terms about the scope of the alleged wrongdoing, in part out of necessity, as the investigation is underway.
But Sammarco did his best to keep it down by speaking to FOX19 NOW on Thursday afternoon.
In doing so, Sammarco has defended the Hamilton County Crime Lab, which she oversees, while describing her “frustration” at the lack of feedback from the law enforcement agencies he serves.
“I want to assure everyone in our community that our office and staff are doing their best to try to process the evidence as quickly as possible, with integrity and with great empathy for the victims of these crimes,” a- she declared.
Who processes the rape evidence for the Cincinnati police?
When DNA evidence left in a rape is collected, whether it is from the victim or from something left at the scene, the CPD sends it to one of two agencies, according to Sammarco.
The Hamilton County Crime Lab processes evidence for the DPC as well as other local jurisdictions, state agencies, and federal agencies.
Sammarco says the CPD is also asking the Ohio Bureau of Criminal Investigations to deal with “some of their cases as well.”
What happens when the Crime Lab gets a match?
Sammarco calls a DNA match a “CODIS hit”.
CODIS stands for Combined DNA Index System. It links unknown DNA left in a crime to offenders who are legally required to provide samples for the database, according to the FBI.
Sammarco explains that a CODIS shot does not necessarily reveal a suspect. The crime lab could find DNA in a test that matches DNA from a previous test in an unsolved case.
“We still may not have a name,” she said. “But at least then we can say, since there is correspondence, to look at these other cases, to look at the details, to see if there is any commonalities.”
Then the lab gets its results in the right place.
“Every time we receive a [hit,] we will notify that jurisdiction or the police department that provided us with this evidence, inform them of the match and provide all the information we get from the system so that they can prosecute any possible suspect based on the information we pass on ”, a said Sammarco. .
What is Schröder’s implication?
Schroder, 52, was assigned to the Personal Crimes Unit of the Criminal Investigation Section of the CPD in July 2007.
Sammarco says Schroder’s name appears in 96 entries in the coroner’s office database, meaning he was somehow involved in at least the early stages of the rape investigations who gave 96 DNA tests.
Some of these cases involved male victims, according to Sammarco.
Out of those 96 tests, the criminal lab obtained four CODIS results, and those results were forwarded to Schroder.
The ages of the victims ranged from 15 to 31, Sammarco said.
What is Schroder specifically accused of?
Schroder’s attorney, Mike Allen, told FOX19 NOW on Wednesday that the allegations came from three cases. This could mean that Schroder followed one of the four CODIS hits. It could also mean that two of the hits were from the same case.
It is possible that more than three cases of rape are involved. A CODIS hit could be the missing link in a string of crimes, leading to the conviction of a serial rapist.
Deters made this point on Wednesday, although it remains purely speculative.
Sammarco could not say whether these four hits were attributed to other officers or only to Schroder. She was also unable to comment on the state of affairs, which led to three possible outcomes:
- Some or all of the cases were resolved despite Schroder’s alleged inaction;
- Some or all of the cases remain unresolved, and Schroder’s alleged inaction is directly to blame; Where
- Some or all of the cases remain unresolved, and the CODIS shots would not have helped even if Schroder had acted on them, making his alleged inaction metaphysically questionable.
Why does the Crime Lab not know the status of the cases?
Sammarco says it’s incumbent on law enforcement to report on what happens after the Crime Lab takes over a CODIS coup.
This can include an arrest, conviction, or even a standoff.
But according to Sammarco, that desired return sometimes does not come. And it’s frustrating, she says.
“You know, our Crime Lab employees work really, really hard to maintain the integrity of the evidence and to work as efficiently as possible to provide law enforcement responses so that we can get dangerous criminals off the streets and ensure the safety of our community, “she said. “This is the goal of everyone in the office. So when they work very hard and get a positive CODIS result, they pass this information on to law enforcement as quickly as possible, so that they can keep everyone safe. “
Sammarco continued, “It’s frustrating to work really hard to get answers, and for us not to have a follow-up … And I know it takes time to find suspects, to follow-up, to see where. they find themselves and trying to apprehend them, but not getting a lot of information is frustrating for us.
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