Sarasota Police Department Mishandles Juvenile Rape Investigation

| by Khier Casino

Police have made a mess of an investigation of a young girl that happened earlier this month in Sarasota, Fla.

The alleged victim’s father says the Police Department has a “we’ll get to it when we get to it” attitude about the rape case, he told the Sarasota Herald-Tribune, which is not publishing the girl’s name or information that could lead to her identity.

Sarasota Police are still investigating the alleged rape. But police say evidence, including blood-stained clothing that belongs to the child, was not collected by them but instead delivered by the family in a paper sack six days after the alleged sexual assault occurred, according to the Herald-Tribune.

The victim’s father also says police did not take proper course of action at the alleged crime scene and did not contact the victim for an interview until a week later.

The 16-year-old victim dated the suspect, 17, according to the victim’s father.

“The detective told me my daughter doesn’t want to prosecute,” the father said. “I don't care. She’s a child. She doesn’t get to make that call.”

The father said he spoke out because he “doesn’t want this to happen to any other families.”

The victim’s family alleges that the rape happened around 3:30 p.m. after school on Nov. 8 in the bathroom of a friend’s house. The girl discussed it with her mother the following day.

The report has been classified as “Rape-forced intercourse of a child 11-18” by police, and states that the suspect stopped when he saw the victim was bleeding.

She was taken to the hospital, where she received a sexual assault kit — or rape kit — by a nurse to collect physical evidence.

Sarasota Police Chief Bernadette DiPino said in an interview with the Herald-Tribune on Monday that she apologized that the “whole situation happened.”

“We responded appropriately,” DiPino said. “We did follow our protocols. There were some things I’d like to modify — customer service is a priority. There are some things I wish we’d done quicker. I apologized because they didn’t get the service they felt they should get.”

DiPino said at first that she would not order her internal affairs unit to investigate, but it was ordered by her an hour later to “determine whether policy was followed.”