FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
July 18, 2023
Radim Dragomaca, [email protected]
Independent Audit of Johnson City Police Department Affirms Allegations of Kateri Dahl – former Special Assistant United States Attorney and Whistleblower Aid Client
Deep deficiencies in criminal investigations of sexual assault cases have systematically failed victims
Johnson City, TN, July 18, 2023 – An independent audit of the Johnson City Police Department’s (JCPD) handling of sexual assault cases revealed systemic deficiencies in line with those reported by Kateri Dahl, former Special Assistant United States Attorney, represented by Whistleblower Aid. Ms. Dahl raised concerns about this pattern of investigative misconduct relating to sexual assault victims, and her disclosure is now supported by this independent audit.
The report concluded that JCPD’s sexual assault investigations were so inadequate that they hindered even basic evidence gathering, and that some investigations were additionally found to be “inconsistent, ineffective, and incomplete.” In some instances, the Department failed to collect and document evidence, in others failed to secure crime scenes or effectively use search warrants to pursue evidence. The report calls for supervisors, officers and investigators to be held accountable. It further confirmed that not only do JCPD’s investigations fail to center victims, they actively discourage their participation. The report asserts that in many cases where prosecution was declined, proper investigative rigor and methods would likely have given prosecutors strong cases to pursue.
Andrew Bakaj, Chief Disclosure Officer for Whistleblower Aid: said today, “This comprehensive and well-researched investigation confirms our worst fears: survivors of sexual assault not only were not believed, but the inappropriate actions and omissions of the police department discouraged those survivors from participating in an investigation. In doing so, the Johnson City Police Department not only put those victims in greater danger, but exposed the community at large to threats from serial predators. This report corroborates much of Kateri Dahl’s whistleblower evidence of police misconduct. Every day that these law enforcement leaders continue to allow these practices to continue, victims of sexual assault will lose faith in the department’s ability and willingness to protect them. The JCPD must uphold basic principles of constitutional policing, accountability and ultimately justice.”
“The report’s findings paint a damning picture of a police department that has systemically failed survivors of sexual assault. It is an urgent call to action for city leaders,” said Naomi Seligman, Vice President of External Affairs for Whistleblower Aid. “It is deeply troubling and unacceptable that many of their failures can be attributed to a pattern of sexist stereotypes and confounding misconceptions about female survivors of sexual assault by the Department.” Seligman added, “those responsible must be held accountable, and the reforms proposed in the report must be implemented so that this community can begin rebuilding trust.”
Whistleblower Aid is a non-profit legal organization in Washington, D.C. supporting individuals who lawfully report government and corporate law breaking. It provides assistance to individuals in the United States and abroad seeking to disclose illegal conduct, including misconduct relating to government officials, securities fraud, sexual violence, and violations of tax, labor or environmental laws. In recent years Whistleblower Aid lawyers have represented Facebook whistleblower Frances Haugen and the Ukraine whistleblower whose disclosures led to the first impeachment of President Trump.