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SAPD: Special Victims Unit Did Not Properly Investigate More Than 130 Crimes

Tim Hernandez (Intern)
Texas Public Radio
San Antonio Police Chief William McManus provides information on the number of cases not properly investigated by SAPD's Special Victims Unit

At least 130 sex crimes in its Special Victims Unit went uninvestigated or mis-investigated by the San Antonio Police Department according to an internal audit by the department. 

Police Chief William Chief McManus and City Manager Sheryl Sculley say some the cases date back to 2013.

At a Thursday press conference, Chief McManus offered his apologies.

“My humble apologies go out to the victims whose crimes were not properly investigated," he said. "We own that and we will fix it.” 

The discovery was made in an internal audit. “We noticed a change in the number of cases filed that were being filed with the DA and we went and we did an audit,” McManus added.

An estimated 139 cases are affected. City Manager Sheryl Sculley says she is appalled and outraged.

“It is absolutely imperative that victims who come forward to report sex crimes, domestic violence or human trafficking have the utmost confidence that their case will be investigated immediately and thoroughly and with the highest level of sensitivity and professionalism,” she said.

Some of the cases date back nearly four years and other may have fallen out of the statute of limitations.

McManus says the individual cases were due to negligence. All the cases can be traced back to a single detective. The chief declined to name the detective or say what actions would be taken.

“I do not want to get into the particulars about any administrative actions that may happen to anyone involved in this," he said. "We don’t want to talk about that and for good reason.”

McManus would only say the detective was reassigned. Sculley says the attorney’s office will conduct an independent review of the special victims unit and intents to make certain the full extent of the problems, and that they have been rectified.

Interim Director of San Antonio's Rape Crisis Center Deana Franks says she was called down to SAPD headquarters by Chief William McManus at 11 a.m. Thursday after reports started leaking about SVU cases that weren't investigated properly by SAPD.

"Almost like a kick in the stomach. It's like survivors are going down there and trusting and reporting what happened to them and nothing is happening with their case intentionally,” she said.

Franks says they have already gotten calls from survivors they are working with. One called to say their case had been reassigned.

There were more than 1100 rapes last year, and already nearly 600 cases this year according to SAPD crime stats. A recent University of Texas report found that 91 percent of victims of sexual assault in Texas didn't report the crime.

Franks says Thursday’s news won't help.

"I'm concerned that they won't want to report now," she said. "So we're very strongly encouraging them to please trust and go and report.  Call us we'll send an advocate to go with you."

Franks believes SAPD has been a good partner, will sort the cases out, and hopes the department can regain the community's trust.

On Oct. 30, David Martin Davies spoke with the San Antonio Rape Crisis Center's Deana Franks about these cases on "The Source."


Joey Palacios can be reached atJoey@TPR.org and on Twitter at @Joeycules
Paul Flahive can be reached at Paul@tpr.org and on Twitter at @paulflahive
David Martin Davies can be reached at dmdavies@tpr.org and on Twitter at @DavidMartinDavi