In April of last year, a 22-year-old Norfolk woman was followed home and sexually assaulted in her own apartment by serial rapist and diagnosed sexual sadist, Roy Ruiz Loredo. She tried to report the attack to police, but found them less than eager to believe her complaint. At one point an investigator warned her “”If we find out that you’re lying, this will be a felony charge.”
The traumatized victim was so upset by the police response that she walked out. They never even took her for a medical exam. Without a victim, the police closed the case. Her complaint was “unfounded”, a designation the police like because it doesn’t impact of the city’s crime statistics or their personal case solution rate.
Roy Ruiz Loredo went on to rape again. In fact, he was arrested by Virginia Beach police three months later for three separate attacks on women in his neighborhood. He is now awaiting trial on those cases.
Once he was in custody, detectives began looking back at unsolved rapes Loredo might also be responsible for. Before she had abandoned her complaint, crime scene technicians had preserved a cup the rapist had drunk from at the Norfolk woman’s apartment. After Loredo was caught, police were curious enough to check it. Sure enough, the woman they had threatened with a felony for a false report had indeed been raped by Roy Loredo. He was tried and convicted and is now serving 36 years for the young Norfolk woman’s rape.
In response to what he called “the inappropriate treatment of a victim”, Norfolk Police Chief Mike Goldsmith sent a memo to the City Council last week, announcing a new policy regarding sexual assaults. From here on out, police will assume the victim is telling the truth unless they develop evidence to the contrary. Up until now, allegations of rape were considered to be “unfounded” unless proven to be true.
Here are the revised guidelines for Norfolk:
- Allowing victims to have a rape crisis advocate or personal representative present during the interview. If they decline, investigators will provide written information on organizations that can help.
- No longer classifying sexual assault cases as “unfounded.” Sexual assault reports will be considered valid, unless proven otherwise.
- Making sure victims are taken to the hospital and given a sexual assault examination within 72 hours.
The police chief also promised Special Crimes Division will begin post-traumatic stress disorder and rape trauma syndrome training from an online program from End Violence Against Women International.
One precinct down. How many more to go?
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