I-Team: Police respond to investigation into sex crimes unit

CLEVELAND, Ohio-- Cleveland police have responded to questions raised by a FOX 8 I-Team investigation days ago about the Sex Crimes Unit.

Our report looked at short-staffing, old cases being investigated, and in one case, photos of a suspect put out to the public 15 months after the crime.

So why wait so long to release images of a wanted man after a violent attack? A spokesman wrote, “.. the decision was made to release the video after taking the victim and other factors into consideration, and having exhausted all other leads.” We should note, however, the mother of the victim says the family had not heard from police since just after that crime.

As for the Sex Crimes Unit just now looking into old cases, police say, “There were 11 cases from a detective who retired that were under review for reassignment. All 11 have been reassigned. There is no backlog.” Multiple sources have told us some of those cases from the retired detective date back more than a year.

Meantime, the I-Team also revealed short-staffing. And the chief’s office wrote, “There are currently 17 detectives – out of a total of 23 budgeted positions assigned to the unit.” At the same time, multiple sources have told us, the unit has had far fewer detectives actually taking on new sex crimes cases for investigation.

Police point out, a new rookie class just graduated, and that will allow for more officers to be moved to “support” or specialized units. Although no commitment was provided for any exact numbers of officers moving into the Sex Crimes Unit.

Last winter, the I-Team revealed 60 sex crimes cases that had not been fully investigated. And nearly a decade ago, city leaders promised to do a better job of handling these kinds of investigations after the case of serial killer Anthony Sowell.