EDITORIAL

A 21-year-old USF student who said she was raped during the Gasparilla parade is claiming her attacker isn’t being hunted by law enforcement anymore. The Tampa Police Department is saying otherwise.

After the assault, she claimed she returned to her car and called the police. When law enforcement arrived, they found she had two outstanding felony warrants in Sarasota County for failing to pay $4,585 in restitution after a 2003 juvenile arrest. Because of her record, police arrested her. The judge set no bail, leaving the woman in jail for two days. The jail’s medical officer refused to give her the necessary second dose of Plan B to prevent an unwanted pregnancy from the rape. Now, the victim claims the police are refusing to investigate.

According to the St. Petersburg Times, the woman’s lawyer, Vic Moore III, filed a lawsuit Wednesday seeking access to her case records. The suit alleges that TPD Detective M.D. Holder determined the USF student “falsely reported the rape to make her friends feel guilty about not walking with her to her car,” after which Holder refused to work on the case.

However, a Tampa police spokeswoman said the investigation is ongoing, and that the woman’s attorney has prevented her from further assisting detectives.

It’s unfortunate. The TPD and the woman both have the same goal: To put a rapist behind bars. After her maltreatment by the authorities, it’s hard to blame her for being frustrated at law enforcement officials. Then again, it’s also important to remember the TPD and the city of Tampa – no less a figure than Mayor Pam Iorio, in fact – have apologized for her treatment.

The same applies to the current predicament. Law enforcement cannot be expected to investigate a crime if the victim, upon the advice of her attorney, refuses to cooperate. If what the victim claims about Holder is true, however, the TPD has made a mistake. After all, no rational person would falsely report a rape and then file a lawsuit to ensure an ongoing investigation.

Since the victim’s aggressiveness is indicative of a genuine rape case, and since the TPD has denied it’s stopped the investigation, there doesn’t seem to be any legitimate reason for this conflict except bad blood. But bad blood between authorities and victims does not put criminals in jail. Before the TPD and the victim in this case decide to continue to attack one another, they might want to remember it’s a rapist they should be hunting – not each other.

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