Arizona Republic Seeks File on Apache Reservation Rapes

     PHOENIX (CN) – The Bureau of Indian Affairs failed to produce documents on an investigation of 15 rapes on the White Mountain Apache Indian Reservation, says the publisher of The Arizona Republic in a Maricopa County Court asking for records of the BIA investigation.

     According to the complaint, the Republic reported in November 2008 that the sexual assaults were committed by rapists posing as police officers. Two men were arrested but were not prosecuted because of problems with the BIA’s investigation, Phoenix Newspapers claims in its FOIA demand for documents.
     The Republic and its reporter Dennis Wagner in June 2008 requested the investigative report case files, “copies of BIA law enforcement contract reviews during the past four years for the White Mountain Apache Tribal Police Department,” and other documents from the BIA and the Department of the Interior.
     Phoenix Newspapers claims the BIA promised to release records of the investigation by Sept. 25, 2008, and did provide the Republic with the White Mountain Apache Police Department’s contract reviews, but denied the request for the case file and “correspondence between (the) BIA and the White Mountain Apache Tribe regarding police department inspections” because the reports include “extensive personal privacy information about the victims, suspects, law enforcement officers, witnesses and sources” involved in the investigation.
     The Department of Interior backed up the BIA, telling the Republic that the BIA “properly invoked” its right to “withhold the complete Operation Mountain Line report.”
     In its complaint filed late last month, Phoenix Newspapers seeks the complete report, including records on those who may have been subjects in the investigation, and correspondence between the U.S. Attorney’s Office and the tribal prosecutor.
     Plaintiffs are represented by David J. Bodney and Chris Moeser of Steptoe & Johnson.

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