Among the most disturbing accusations against Arpaio’s Sheriff Office is its failure to investigate over 400 reported sex crimes between 2004 and 2007 alone.
With an outstanding history of as much as 75% of cases cleared without arrest or proper investigation, the sheriff’s office has a seriously upsetting track record when it comes to following protocol. Many of these prematurely closed cases include sexual misconduct, child molestation, and rape, including several rapes of teenage girls.
One such case is that of Sabrina Morrison, a mentally disabled girl who, in 2007 at the age of thirteen, told her teacher that she had been raped by her uncle. The teacher immediately reported the case to the MCSO, and though a rape kit showing evidence of semen was taken unbeknownst to the family, and although the lab requested the sheriff’s office obtain a blood sample from the suspect, the detective assigned to case said there was no evidence of sexual assault and closed the case.
Sabrina was branded as a liar by her own family, and she was repeatedly raped by her uncle under the threat of death; Sabrina even became pregnant by him and had an abortion.
It wasn’t until four years later in 2011 that the sheriff’s office obtained a blood sample from Sabrina’s uncle Patrick Morrison and found that his DNA matched the semen found in her rape kit. The MCSO finally arrested and charged him on one count of sexual conduct with a minor in February 2012 before closing the case again. It was still some time before a victim’s advocate for Sabrina brought additional indictments against Patrick Morrison, who finally admitted to his crimes and was sentenced to 24 years in prison.
In one particularly embarrassing case, it was found that officials in Maricopa County had staged an assassination attempt on Arpaio to boost his popularity.
When undercover MCSO officers arrested eighteen-year-old James Saville and charged him with plotting to kill Arpaio with a pipe bomb in 1999, news cameras were conveniently on the scene, having been tipped off by the sheriff’s office. Saville maintained his innocence for the next four years, which he spent in jail waiting for trial, despite the fact that not signing a plea deal could have meant more jail time.
Finally, in 2003, the MCSO acquitted Saville after finding that he could have been entrapped. It was later discovered that detectives from the MCSO itself had bought the parts of the bomb and convinced Saville to build it, all as a publicity stunt for Arpaio. The county eventually paid Saville $1.6 million in damages.
In no way has Arpaio abused his power more than through racial profiling. Arizona is an especially aggressive state in terms of border patrol and policy on illegal immigration. Charges of racial profiling have been brought against Arpaio numerous times, including a 2012 federal class action suit and a United States Department of Justice suit.
Though it happens all over the country, Maricopa County is especially notorious for having law enforcers profile against minorities, especially against Latinos. The MCSO instituted an unsettling practice of targeting Latino drivers based on nothing more than their appearance, skin tone, race, and manner of speaking in a vicious crackdown on illegal immigration.
After Mexican tourist Manuel De Jesus Ortega Melendres was held unlawfully for nine hours as a result of racial profiling, he filed a lawsuit against against Arpaio, the MCSO, and Maricopa County, which ultimately led to Judge G. Murray Snow finding Arpaio and his office guilty of discriminatory practices in violation of the Fourth and Fourteenth Amendments, as well as Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.
In his deposition in the case, Arpaio testified that he didn’t know the content of the 14th Amendment and that he had never read the Department of Justice’s guidelines regarding the use of race in investigations. And this is the highest form authority in the country’s fourth-largest county?
Arpaio later faced charges on contempt-of-court for ignoring and speaking out against the court’s orders for the MCSO to stop its racial profiling practices.