Milwaukee Must Defend Claim Over Rape by Cop

     (CN) – The city of Milwaukee and others will have to explain their failure to properly discipline a police officer for serial sexual misconduct before he committed the rape while on the job that eventually landed him in jail, a federal judge ruled.
     The city was denied summary judgment on Tuesday by U.S. District Judge Charles Clevert in a lawsuit filed by Iema Lemons against the City of Milwaukee, chiefs of police Edward Flynn and Nanette Hegerty, former officer Ladmarald Cates and former officer Alvin Hannah.
     Cates was convicted of raping Lemons after responding to her 911 call in which she reported a disturbance after fighting with a neighbor earlier in the day. Cates is now serving time in federal prison for the offense.
     Specifically, Lemons is suing Cates and Hannah, his former partner, for due process violations; Flynn and Hegerty for insufficient investigation, supervision and discipline of Cates; the city for indemnity and as employer of the other defendants; and Cates individually for due process violations.
     Although Cates was the subject of multiple complaints regarding his on- and off-duty behavior, prior to July 16, 2010, the date of Lemons’ rape, he was not removed from the force and remained in daily contact with the public while performing his duties.
     Complaints against Cates included a domestic violence arrest for choking and pushing his girlfriend, who was also a police officer, and accusations of sexual misconduct made in 2005 against Cates by a female inmate.
     Former chief Hegerty suspended Cates for six days for mistreatment of the inmate, but his suspension made no mention of her sexual misconduct allegations, an inadequate remedy, Lemons argues.
     Cates was again accused of sexual misconduct in 2007 after a woman arrested for theft claimed he had sex with her in a jail cell after promising he would get her released if she complied. Her case was eventually closed without proper investigation, Lemons claims in her suit.
     Lemons asserts in her lawsuit that Cates qualified as a sexual predator, since the first allegation involved a female inmate who was severely intoxicated and the second involved one who was clearly mentally ill, and that “Sex with a prisoner constitutes criminal sexual assault.”
     Also in 2007, Cates was accused of sexual misconduct while on duty, this time with a minor, but again the witness was considered unreliable. Flynn, who had by then replaced Hegerty as chief, admitted while being deposed that the allegations against Cates were “disturbing,” but did nothing to discipline him.
     In 2010 Cates raped Lemons after responding to a disturbance at her dwelling. He waited until his partner was preoccupied in a squad car and Lemons’ child was out of the home before cornering her in her bathroom and assaulting her.
     According to her complaint, she told friends who arrived at the scene shortly after that she had been raped by Cates, who then tried to restrain her without justification.
     Lemons was falsely arrested for kicking Hannah while Hannah was attempting to arrest Lemons’ brother on a warrant, her lawsuit says. At this point she told more arriving officers that another officer had raped her, and was promptly handcuffed by Cates. She was taken into custody but released after failing to be charged with a crime.
     During an internal affairs investigation that followed Lemons’ rape accusation, Cates lied and said he had no sexual contact with Lemons, but later changed his story and admitted to on-duty sexual contact, claiming it was consensual. He was finally discharged from the Milwaukee Police Department by Flynn for “untruthfulness” and “idling and loafing.”
     Chief Flynn later told a reporter, “It is clear to me looking at this employee’s record that from a management point of view an obvious pattern was overlooked.”
     In spite of Flynn’s admission, the Milwaukee County district attorney declined to charge Cates with a crime, but the U.S. Dept. of Justice picked up the case, and in January 2012 convicted him of sexual assault and depriving Lemons of due process.
     Lemons’ claims the Milwaukee Police Department engaged in “flawed or biased” investigative practices regarding sexual assault complaints against officers that “credit(ed) the officer’s denial over the victim’s complaint.”
     She argues that her Fourth Amendment rights were violated through excessive force and unlawful detention, and that Flynn and Hegerty failed to properly discipline and supervise Cates. She also claims separate due process violations against Cates.
     Lemons is allowed to proceed with her due process and Fourth Amendment allegations, as her claim against Cates occurred in her house while she was a complainant, not a suspect, and her right to bodily integrity was in question.
     Her claims against Hegerty and Flynn have merit as well, as a pattern of disregard was established in their handing of sexual assault claims against officers on duty, including that of Cates, to which they “turned a blind eye … by not disciplining him more severely (or at all) for prior rule infractions.”
     Likewise, Lemons’ claims against the city will also proceed to trial, as the city was responsible for the conduct of Hegerty and Flynn.
     Her false arrest claim against Hannah may proceed, as there is some confusion regarding the facts of the arrest, but since Hannah was no longer involved in her detainment following the original interaction, his unlawful detention allegation is dismissed.

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