Paper looks into botched Apache reservation rape investigation
The person or persons responsible for a series of sexual assaults on the Fort Apache Reservation were likely never caught due to a botched investigation by the Bureau of Indian Affairs and the White Mountain Apache Tribe, according to The Arizona Republic.

As many as 17 young girls and women were raped by someone posing as a police officer. A high-profile BIA investigation led to three arrests but one suspect who was convicted wasn't connected to the serial rapes while the two others were exonerated and are now suing the federal government.

The initial investigation by tribal police authorities was cursory, the paper said, after reviewing thousands of pages of documents. Some victims weren't interviewed thoroughly and some say the officers weren't concerned at all about the crimes, according to the paper.

But the BIA rushed to make arrests amid media scrutiny, the paper said. One man had an alibi for an alleged rape and didn't even match the description of the suspect while another was identified after a questionable photo lineup.

The evidence for both men was shaky and the U.S. Attorney's Office in Arizona never filed charges for the rapes. The tribe's prosecutor also was unable to make a case against the suspects.

"(The defendants') names were splashed all over the newspapers with BIA claiming they had solved the serial-rapist cases," tribal prosecutor Paula King wrote in an e-mail that was reviewed by the paper. "In the meantime, I have had to deal with the cursory investigations."

Since the investigation, tribal authorities have seen 46 aggravated sexual abuse incidents on the reservation. "Things haven't changed here at all," one BIA agent said in an e-mail.

The agent indicated it was possible that the perpetrator changed behaviors in response to the investigation. "We haven't had the exact MO, but probably a dozen or so juvenile victims who have no idea where or by whom they were assaulted," the agent said.

Get the Story:
Poor justice on Arizona Indian reservations has crime running rampant (The Arizona Republic 9/13)
Whiteriver serial rapist investigation failed, files show (The Arizona Republic 9/12)
Complex legal system impedes tribal justice (The Arizona Republic 9/12)
Transcripts reveal efforts to get a confession (The Arizona Republic 9/12)
'Republic' fought to access to Whiteriver rape case file (The Arizona Republic 9/12)
2008: Apache police troubles (The Arizona Republic 9/12)