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Wednesday, May 29, 2024 | Back issues
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Family Says Arpaio Botched Rape Case

PHOENIX (CN) - Sheriff Joe Arpaio's office waited more than three years to collect evidence from a teenager's uncle after he raped her, allowing him to rape her repeatedly and impregnate her, her guardians claim in court.

Guardians for the incapacitated girl, now 19, sued Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio, in Superior Court.

Arpaio is the only defendant.

According to the complaint, on March 7, 2007, the 13-year-old girl "was raped by her paternal uncle, Patrick Morrison, at her parents' residence while they slept in another room."

The guardian-co-plaintiffs, named Morrison, claim the girl told a friend and her school's guidance counselor about the rape the day after it happened.

Arpaio's office was notified on March 8, 2007, according to the complaint.

The uncle, Patrick Morrison, "was then approximately 43 years old, 5 feet 8 inches tall, weighing 200 lbs., with a history of criminal conduct and periodic imprisonment," the complaint states.

Patrick Morrison is not named as a defendant. He has been sentenced to 24 years in prison for his repeated sexual abuse, the guardians say in the complaint.

Arpaio's office sent a deputy to the girl's middle school on March 8, 2007, and she told him "that somewhere between 9 and 9:30 that evening [March 7], her uncle had come into her bedroom while she was trying to sleep, eventually took his clothes off, got on top of her and raped her," the complaint states.

It continues: "That after committing the rape, her uncle, Patrick Morrison, threatened her life by telling her that he would 'kill her' and 'snap her neck' if she ever told anyone about what happened."

The guardians say that the deputy then spoke to the girl's father, who "professed to know nothing of the incident ..."

Her parents agreed to have her examined, and a rape examination was performed, the complaint states.

Evidence from the rape examination "included genital and vaginal swabs, vaginal aspirate, blood and the victim's underwear," the complaint states.

Arpaio's office "took possession of the specimens no later than March 12, 2007," and specimens also were provided to the Arizona Department of Public Safety, according to the complaint.

The Department of Public Safety reported in May 2007 that "semen was detected on some of the items collected ... which was consistent with a claim of rape committed by her uncle, Patrick Morrison," the complaint states.

It continues: "That furthermore, DPS specifically apprised the Sheriff's Office that 'DNA testing should be conducted' and informed the Sheriff's Office of what was necessary to conduct a forensic DNA analysis, i.e., a sample of the suspect's (Patrick Morrison) blood." (Parentheses in complaint.)

The DPS even gave Arpaio's office a phone number for this, the complaint states.

Nonetheless, Arpaio's office classified the case as "inactive" in January 2008, "while it purportedly waited for the examination of evidence it had never provided to the Department of Public Safety (the blood sample)," the complaint states. (Parentheses in complaint.)

For the next three and a half years, Arpaio's office "did nothing to further investigate the rape case," during which time the girl "was raped and molested repeatedly by the same uncle," the complaint states.

The case was reopened in June 2011, and Patrick Morrison's DNA was collected in September 2011. His DNA matched "the sperm collected ... almost 5 years earlier," and he was arrested and charged with sexual conduct with a minor, the complaint states.

But Arpaio's office did not re-interview the girl, or learn of the repeated abuses, her guardians say. It was only through a victim's advocate that this information was learned, and Patrick Morrison was charged with an additional three counts of child molestation and one count of furnishing obscene material to a minor, according to the complaint.

Patrick Morrison pleaded guilty to one count of child molestation and two counts of attempted child molestation, and was sentenced to 24 years in prison, according to the complaint.

Except for the initial rape, "all the subsequent acts of rape, molestation and assault committed by him ... could have been avoided with the arrest of Patrick Morrison within a reasonable period of time after the commencement of the investigation into the March 7, 2007 rape of plaintiff," the complaint states.

The guardians seek general and consequential damages for negligence.

They and the 19-year-old are represented by Charles Surrano III of Scottsdale.

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