Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio apologizes for botched cases

PHOENIX - Sheriff Joe Arpaio offered an apology of sorts Monday for hundreds of sex crimes investigations that were mishandled by MCSO detectives.

"If there were any victims out there, I apologize, if there were any," Arpaio said.

ABC15 Investigators first reported back in May that hundreds of sex crimes cases would have to be re-opened because they had never been worked at all by MCSO detectives or the investigations were incomplete.

We documented cases where victims, most of them children, were never contacted, suspects were never questioned and evidence was never processed.

You can watch our original investigation into MCSO's failure to properly investigate sex crimes.

Monday afternoon MCSO officials acknowledged that 532 sex crimes cases, county wide, were not investigated completely by Special Victims Unit detectives.

Here's the breakdown of those 532 cases as provided by MSCO:

  • They announced that 432 of those cases were reactivated and reworked by other detectives.
  • In 19 cases arrests were made.
  • 221 cases were exceptionally cleared for reasons such as they cannot be prosecuted, a technicality existed in the case, the County Attorney declined to prosecute or there was no cooperation from the victim.
  • 100 cases were found to have been properly investigated.
  • And for some sex crime victims who are still waiting for justice---the waiting will continue as 67 cases were placed in the Cold Case file awaiting further information or new evidence.

We've learned that two lieutenants and three sheriff's deputies face major discipline for their role in the failure of MCSO's sex crimes unit to properly investigate sex crimes.

Back in May, ABC15 identified Lt. Kim Seagraves as the head of the unit when many of the cases went unworked.

MCSO officials confirmed for ABC15 tonight that Lt. Seagraves is one of the officers facing discipline.

Two other detectives targeted in the internal investigation resigned from MCSO earlier this year.

Back in May those two detectives told ABC15 that the problems with the sex crimes unit went higher up than Seagraves and involved a lack of resources due to other priorities.

Mary Ward and James Weege, now working for another police department, told ABC15 Investigators that the sex crimes unit couldn't handle the case load in part because command staff frequently ordered detectives to spend time on what they called "politically motivated" cases instead.

You can watch those stories to hear from detectives who say MCSO is trying to blame detectives for decisions that were made at the highest level of the office.

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