Chicago Suburb Accused of Indifference Toward Rape Victims

CHICAGO (CN) – A woman raped as a teen sued the village of Robbins, Illinois, for never testing her rape kit – or 175 other women’s kits – which she says allowed her rapist to escape prosecution.

The woman, identified only as Jane Doe, says she was raped in Robbins at age 14 when a man attacked her as she walked home from basketball practice.

The man dragged her to a nearby creek where he beat and raped her, according to her 16-page federal complaint. She survived the attack by pretending to be dead after he attempted to drown her.

Doe says she managed to walk home, and her grandmother called the paramedics to take her to the hospital. There, she submitted to an invasive medical exam so a rape kit could be delivered to the police department.

The next day, she gave a statement to the police, and provided a physical description of her attacker to a sketch artist.

But the police never sent her rape kit to a lab for DNA testing, and never contacted Doe again, she says.

“That failure was part of Robbins’ custom and practice not to investigate rapes against women and girls generally,” she claims in her complaint, which was filed Tuesday in the Northern District of Illinois.

The practice allegedly went on for decades.

From 1986 to 2013, the department collected 176 rape kits from women, but one third were never sent to labs, and police never followed up on any of the tested kits, Doe says.

During that same period, the village allegedly only reported 72 rapes – despite having the evidence of one hundred more in its evidence locker.

The Village of Robbins, pop. 5,500, is a predominately black suburb south of Chicago, and one of the poorest villages in the state. Because it costs between $1,000 and $1,500 to test one rape kit, many impoverished communities nationwide have backlogs of untested kits.

Harvey, Ill., a suburb neighboring Robbins, has also been accused of failing to submit hundreds of rape kits for testing.

“Based upon publicly available reports and comments by the Cook County Sheriff’s Office, defendants took affirmative steps, including making false reports to the Illinois Department of State Police, to hide from victims and the public the fact that Robbins, as a matter of course, does not investigate rape cases where the victims are female,” Doe claims.

The Cook County Sheriff’s Office discovered Robbins’s failure to test its rape kits in 2013, and sent Doe’s kit to a lab at that time. The test resulted in a match to the DNA of a man named Carl Flowers.

“Since the time of plaintiff’s rape, defendants’ actions have denied and continue to deny plaintiff and all rape victims in Robbins justice for their rapes,” Doe says. “Because of defendants’ decision not to conduct an investigation into plaintiff’s rape, and defendants’ efforts to conceal that decision, Flowers has not and will not be tried for raping plaintiff.”

Last year, Vice President Joe Biden announced the Department of Justice would dedicate $41 million to address the nation’s backlog of approximately 70,000 unprocessed rape kits.

Doe seeks the appointment of a special monitor to oversee Robbins’ police department, and an injunction requiring the city to meaningfully investigate rapes.

She is represented by J. Kevin McCall with Jenner & Block.

The village could not be contacted late Tuesday for comment.

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