The Omaha Police Department reportedly botched a rape investigation by failing to charge any perpetrators until a year later -- even with overwhelming DNA evidence.
The case involved photos that had spread throughout social media of an unconscious 16-year-old girl who was sexually attacked by multiple aggressors, the Omaha World Herald reports.
The girl, called “Anna" to protect her identity, was drugged and raped at a party in February 2014, and she was later discarded at her parents’ house in the early morning of Feb. 16, 2014. She had been entered vaginally and anally, beaten, bitten and urinated on. Her eyes and face were so bruised and swollen that she was nearly unrecognizable.
She underwent a five-hour rape exam at Methodist Hospital where they found five distinct tears to Anna’s vaginal tissue and another one to her rectum.
Days after the event, photos of the party were distributed among students. Anna’s unconscious body was hauled from one house to another and then a third party. Students took turns snapping selfies with her lifeless body and assaulting her.
The photos were eventually found to belong to the account of Jalyia Templeman. Detectives were called after the photos were brought to the attention of school officials.
Javohn Templeman, Jalyia's brother, was found guilty of first-degree sexual assault in October, but he was not indicted until almost a year after Anna was attacked. Jalyia faces charges for the pictures she took.
Omaha Police Chief Todd Schmaderer delivered a formal apology on behalf of the police department in February and launched an interior search into why the charges had taken so long.
“The Omaha Police Department is committed to achieving excellence in our investigations,” Chief Schmaderer said in a statement. “We take ownership for the unacceptable delay in making arrests in this case. I would like to apologize on behalf of the Omaha Police Department to the victim and her family for the delay.”
Over the course of the investigation, Javohn and fellow classmate Nicholas Bregg – both 18 at the time – were indicted. Brooke Ray, a then-18-year-old student who was present the night of the sexual assault, testified that she had seen both Javohn and Bregg raping Anna. Both Javohn and Bregg's DNA was later found inside Anna.
Anna was then taken to Javohn's home, where his sister, Jalyia, reportedly snapped a picture of Anna unconscious and naked from the waist down and posted it to her Instagram account.
The lab samples from the rape kit were left unrefrigerated by the police, compromising the evidence needed to conclude whether Anna had been anesthetized – though there are contradictory interpretations as to what happened to the kit.
“We can’t speculate,” prosecutor Beth Beninato said, but added that Anna had been given some type of drug.
“There’s no question she was under the influence of something,” said Beninato. “This girl is out of it. This girl is not waking up. This girl is vulnerable.”
Despite the positive DNA results from the rape kit, the case deteriorated and was pass from one detective to another, before being abandoned for months. Only initial interrogations were executed and valuable time was wasted.
Robyn Bruning, a detective for the Omaha law enforcement agency, assumed the case in December 2014, but learned that no one would comply with the investigation. Partygoers were difficult to track down or question.
In January 2015, the suspects were finally arrested.
Nicholas Bregg, 25, pleaded no contest to charges of second-degree attempted sexual assault and first-degree false imprisonment, according to WOWT NBC Omaha. He was originally facing a first-degree sexual assault charge, but he made an agreement with prosecutors. The charges have a maximum punishment of five years incarceration and a $10,000 fine each.
Douglas County Attorney Don Kleine said Bregg will have to register as a sex offender.
"It is horrific scenario of what took place to this victim," Kleine added.
Javohn Templeman is expected to go to trial and his case is presently in the jury selection process.