It took a sex assault victim six months to get a copy of a police report on her case. An advocate says victims routinely are denied reports “or they are told no or they don’t get any response at all.”
On the one-year anniversary of her sexual assault, Claire Rood of Portland, Or., requested a copy of her now-completed police report. It would take six months, an ombudsman and the order of the district attorney’s office before Rood would ever see it, reports The Oregonian. On July 23, 2014, Rood reported a sexual assault to police. Two months later she decided not to press the case, writing to the detective that she stood by her claims but didn’t feel supported or believed. No charges were filed. By reading the police report, Rood hoped to understand “what it was that made my allegations so preposterous to police,” she wrote on her blog. In December, her request was denied because a witness in the case didn’t want their statement released. At the Multnomah County District Attorney’s urging, on Jan. 26, the city finally released her police report.
An Oregonian columnist requested the same report recently and was denied. Portland Police Spokesman Sgt. Pete Simpson acknowledged that the denial “shouldn’t have happened.” He agreed that the wait for records is too long and said police are hiring more staff to process requests faster. Attorney Jacqueline Swanson, who specializes in advocating for survivors of sexual abuse, said victims are routinely denied access to their own police reports from law enforcement agencies across Oregon. “Just in the past year alone, I can’t even count the number of women who have gone through the exactly the same thing (Rood) went through,” Swanson said. “They are denied it or they are told no or they don’t get any response at all, and the vast majority of the time they don’t fight it.” California requires law enforcement agencies to provide a free copy of incident reports to victims of domestic violence, sexual assault, stalking, human trafficking or elder abuse upon request.