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Baltimore County Police Chief responds to Buzzfeed article on rape cases

Posted at 12:47 PM, Sep 09, 2016

Baltimore County police chief Jim Johnson responded Friday to an article on rape cases in the county.

The article, published Thursday on Buzzfeed, takes a look at the 146 rape reports in Baltimore County in 2014, 42 of which were classified as "unfounded".

Johnson contends the article holds "misrepresentations." A statement from police reads:

The Buzzfeed article falsely asserts that “in at least 15 cases … police wrote that the victims didn’t fight back hard enough." A review by BCoPD of each of the reports provided to Buzzfeed indicates that the Buzzfeed allegation is not accurate.

The statement goes on to say the article, "relies heavily on an October 12, 2014 case."

According to Johnson's statement, the woman in that case told police she didn't want to prosecute and the SVU ruled the case unfounded. Johnson went on to say that the woman later told Buzzfeed she changed her mind and contacted the officer with more information.

Johnson has asked detectives and the State's Attorney's Office to give the case another look.

"We live in a time of growing awareness of the complexities of sexual assault,” Johnson said in the release. “Nationwide, the focus is and should be on victims. This Department has a responsibility to treat victims with respect, investigate these cases and to pursue all cases that meet the legal standard for rape.”

According to the statement, Johnson has asked the Criminal Investigation Bureau to take another look at all rape cases classified as unfounded within the past three years.

“While each of these cases already has been investigated, we will take a fresh look to ensure that the investigation was handled properly and that justice was done,” Johnson said in the release.

Contrary to the headline of the Buzzfeed article, every individual who reports a rape is interviewed by a Baltimore County police officer. The officer responding to the report conducts the interview and consults with an investigator assigned to the Special Victims Unit. Officers, detectives and multiple supervisors review the case and determine whether the specific incident meets the legal critera for rape in the state of Maryland. Officers also routinely consult with the Baltimore County State’s Attorney on rape cases.

 "We have nothing to hide," Johnson said. "While we dispute many of Buzzfeed's assertions, we intend to use this article as an opportunity to see if our procedures can be refined and improved."

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