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Opinion: Rapists get free passes

Matt Westerhold • Jan 8, 2012 at 5:59 PM

A story in Saturday’s Register, “Sex criminal faces rape charges,” was interesting but left some questions unanswered. Jeffrey Fawdry, 47, was accused three years ago of raping two children. He was indicted in Erie County in May 2009, but “a few days after the indictment was filed, he left Ohio and went to Florida.”

It’s not clear from the story, which is derived from the information provided by officials, how a man who’s just been indicted on child rape charges can simply walk away for a trip to Florida. But the information collected by police and prosecutors can at times be incomplete. A recent rape allegation in Sandusky suggests how this can happen.

A police report filed by the Sandusky Police Department contains inaccurate information about the initial allegation, and then it appears police and prosecutors never documented what the allegation was, or what any witnesses might have said about what happened when the woman was allegedly gang raped in December.

Police did not get any witness statements, and in fact they had initially closed the investigation less than three hours after receiving the information. It was re-opened, however, after a story about the alleged gang rape appeared in the Register. But even after it was re-opened, it does not appear the police department documented anything about what occurred.

Instead, police, a prosecutor, a victim’s advocate, a private attorney and the victim all end up together in a meeting at the law offices of Murray & Murray. But here again, very little is documented in the brief reports, which represent all of the information gathered by police.

There’s no explanation why police and the prosecutor met with the victim in the offices of a prominent law firm. There’s no explanation as to why a private attorney is involved. And there’s still no witness statements, nor is there any documentation as to what allegedly happened. In addition, inaccuracies in the information contained in the initial reports are never corrected. 

Perhaps none of that matters, anyway. With no documentation, an indictment of the men on rape charges is unlikely, and if they ever did get indicted they might simply opt to go to Florida to avoid prosecution for a few years. 

Life in Erie County; ain’t it great? 

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