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An officer reported a sex assault against a fellow cop. Critics say Phoenix responded in ‘worst possible way’
Posted: 3:07 PM, Apr 23, 2021
Updated: 2021-05-06 16:54:43-04

Abby Dennison always wanted to be a police officer.

“Oh man, man it was something I wanted to do since I was a little kid, actually. I just had a heart for justice and a heart for helping people,” she said.

Dennison joined the Phoenix Police Department in 2008 as one of a handful of women in the academy. She first worked patrol before rising to detective.

“I used to be very proud that I was a Phoenix police officer, and I’m not any more,” Dennison said.

That changed after August 20, 2010.

Watch all three parts of the investigation in the player above.

It’s the night Dennison said a fellow officer, Anthony Armour, sexually assaulted her.

Armour, a “Brady list” officer who retired in 2019 under an accidental disability claim, has repeatedly denied the allegation. [Four requests for comment sent to Armour’s attorneys were not returned].

“He’s someone who’s done some terrible things,” she told ABC15 during an hour-long interview. “Not just to me - but to other people, other women - and has been allowed to get away with it.”

“I used to be very proud that I was a Phoenix police officer, and I’m not any more.”

Armour has been accused — and cleared — of sex assault allegations multiple times in his career, records show.

That includes Dennison’s case.

But an ABC15 investigation found Phoenix police didn’t thoroughly document her initial allegations, didn’t file an official incident report, and pressured Dennison in the hours after her alleged assault. Then a decade later, the department attempted to minimize what happened and police pressured her again as she sought an independent investigation.

Dennison’s story is long and complicated.

She backed out of filing criminal charges in 2010 but decided to come forward last year after learning about other women who’ve accused Armour.

The way Dennison was treated by her own police department — both in 2010 and now — is deeply troubling, according to advocates and sexual trauma experts.

“The betrayal,” said Dennison, when asked if there’s one thing that bothers her the most. “It’s the fact that I was so proud of this job. So proud of what I did. Something I wanted to do since I was little. And, I still have friends and family who work for the department. And I feel betrayed. It makes me sick thinking if this is how I was treated, all of those other people out there are being treated worse.”

The Phoenix Police Department did not agree to an interview for this report.

In an emailed response, a spokesperson wrote: “Any allegation of sexual assault is serious and represents a traumatic event that must be treated with compassion… Further, trying this case in the media is inappropriate and unfair to the parties as well as the justice system.”

If you have experienced sexual assault and need assistance call, text, or chat the Arizona Sexual and Domestic Violence Helpline Monday through Friday 8:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. You can get connected to local resources or to talk to a victim advocate by calling 602-279-2980, texting 520-720-3383, accessing chat services online here For 24 hour support, call the National Sexual Assault Hotline at 800-656-4673 to get connected to your local sexual assault provider.

AUGUST 20, 2010

[Editor’s note: Dennison declined prosecution in 2010 but requested a new investigation in 2020. The following account of what happened on August 20, 2010 is based on available investigative records created over the past decade, witness interviews, and Dennison’s recollection.]

Abby Dennison was at the house of a fellow Phoenix officer for a small get-together with a handful of co-workers.

She said she has “snapshots” of memories from the night.

But many of the night’s events are not in dispute: There was drinking, swimming, hanging out, and talking about work and life.

Another thing that’s not in dispute was that Dennison was highly intoxicated, vomiting, and she eventually passed out.

“The last solid thing I remember was Armour was making drinks, and I don’t know for everybody, but he made me a drink,” Dennison said during the ABC15 interview. “I already had been sipping a beer. And he approached me and offered me a drink and said, ‘Try this.’ I said, ‘No I'm good, I have a beer.’ And he got a little more aggressive in my face and said, ‘Try this.’ And I said,’No, I’m good. And he got closer. And through his teeth, he said, ‘Nobody says no to me, try it.' And he shoves it in my face. So to avoid a scene and to avoid making anything uncomfortable, I took it and drank it.”

Dennison said her next snapshot memory was standing in the pool talking to people. Then, she remembered being slumped in a lawn chair and unable to lift her head.

At one point, Dennison told investigators she remembered two other men, and not Armour, pulling on her swimming suit tie-strings as a joke.

She vomited multiple times, including once in a bed where others had laid her down to rest. The owner of the house stripped the sheets off. And Dennison then remembers being rinsed off in the shower still wearing her swimming suit.

She also remembered someone laying her back down in the bed and shutting off the light.

The next thing Dennison remembered is waking up.

“It’s dark inside the room,” she said. “And there’s a window off to my left that has some blinds in it, and there’s some faint early morning light coming through. And on a dresser in the corner is a digital alarm clock, and in red letters, or red numbers, it said 5-something in the morning. That was when I noticed Anthony was on top of me, and he was having sex with me. So, I put my hands on his chest and pushed him away and said, ‘What are you doing?’ And it’s just black again.”

Dr. Jim Hopper, a clinical psychologist and sexual trauma expert, said survivors often have fragmented memories.

“In trauma situations, it really gets accentuated,” said Hopper, who’s also a teaching associate at Harvard Medical School. “Certain parts of the experience get really burned in, but most of the rest of it goes missing.”

Dennison said her next memories are less like snapshots and more like a blur.

It’s a period she still struggles to understand.

“Certain parts of the experience get really burned in, but most of the rest of it goes missing.”

She got in a car with Armour and went to his house. There, Dennison showered and laid down. She then told him she wanted to leave and to have him take her back to her car.

“I can’t (explain why I went with him),” Dennison said. “I don’t know why. And those questions I ask myself. And I don’t have a reason for it. I don’t know.”

In an interview with a Phoenix detective in 2020, Armour said the sex was consensual and that Dennison initiated it.

He claimed the sex lasted for “about an hour” and that she was “awake during the the entire time and never blacked out.”

No one else witnessed the alleged assault.

The owner of the house said he walked by the room and heard what he thought was consensual sex.

Advocates and trauma experts said it’s rare for sex assault survivors to fight or flee. Many are often polite and submissive to their attackers during and after the attacks.

Under the trauma and stress, the brain can go on “autopilot,” Hopper said.

Jenna Panas, CEO of the Arizona Coalition to End Sexual and Domestic Violence, also said she often hears similar responses from survivors.

“Rational thought, decision-making, all of those things are gone,” she said. “All of the things we can normally count on to guide us are gone. So sexual assault survivors, their responses are what they are in the moment. There is no typical or appropriate response to being assaulted.”


On the evening of August 20, 2010, Dennison went to the emergency room with her mother.

“So, I was on my period when this happened, and I had a tampon in,” she said. “And I remembered that morning when I got home, and I tried to take it out and I couldn’t.”

Medical records confirm that Dennison went to the hospital for a “dislodged tampon” and to report a “sexual assault.”

“When I told them how it got dislodged, they said, ‘It sounds like you were sexually assaulted. It sounds like you were raped.’ And I said, ‘Yeah, I agree,’” Dennison told ABC15. “That same nurse said, ‘I have to call the police.’ And I remember taking a deep breath and saying, ‘Please don’t call. Please don’t.’ And they said, ‘We’re required to.’ I paused again and said, ‘I work for Phoenix police. I am a Phoenix police officer. Please don’t call. I’m supposed to work tonight. I’ll call my supervisor. Please don’t have a random patrol officer come out and take my report.’”

After Dennison called, six officials arrived at the hospital: A commander, two lieutenants, two sergeants, and a detective.

In her hospital room, Dennison told them what happened.

“When I told them how it got dislodged, they said, ‘It sounds like you were sexually assaulted. It sounds like you were raped.’ And I said, ‘Yeah, I agree.’”

“It was awful,” she said. “It was intimidating.”

Dennison said the detective then spoke to her alone.

“He said to me, ‘You have five minutes to decide to press charges because I have crime scenes to secure and search warrants to write,’” she recalled.

Dennison said she momentarily said yes.

“I remember him snapping his folder closed and turning on his heels and walking out the door. The moment the door closed to the room I just got flooded with anything that could come from this. Like this could be picked up by the media, it would be cop-on-cop. He’s Black, I’m White. He-said-she-said situation. There was alcohol involved. My reputation overall. The department’s reputation. So I wavered,” Dennison said. “I had my mom with me and I told her to run and go get him. And he came back in and I told him, ‘I don’t think I can do this. I don’t think I can prosecute.’ And he said, ‘So you don’t want to prosecute?’ And I said, ‘I don’t think I do.' And that was that.”

Dr. Hopper told ABC15 everything Dennison described about her experience at the hospital is the exact opposite of the proper law enforcement response.

“I mean this is basically the worst possible way you could respond to a sexual assault victim,” Hopper said. “The general best practices around this are just to have the minimal number of people present necessary, have a victim advocate there whose solely there to provide support, and have a very highly-trained sensitive interviewer — one person — to ask those questions in a very thoughtful or careful way that is not going to overwhelm or lead the victim to feel judged or shamed or controlled or disempowered in any kind of way.”


Because she declined to press charges, Dennison did not undergo a sexual assault examination. She was also not screened for what's commonly referred to as "date rape drugs."

Phoenix police did not create an incident report.

Instead, the detective filed a two-page memo filled with what Dennison says is false information a month later. The documentation that corresponds to the memo is four-pages of scribbled notes from the night.

“It’s garbage,” Dennison said.

The memo, which refers to Dennison by her maiden name of Frost, omits critical details about her visit to the hospital.

One key omission: The memo doesn’t mention anything about the tampon that was stuck inside of Dennison. The memo only states that she went to the hospital for “abdominal pain.”

In addition, the detective wrote, “Ofc. Frost never articulated she was a victim of sexual assault nor did she allege Ofc. Armour sexual assaulted her… I recommend this investigation be documented in Memorandum Only as Ofc. Frost was not a victim of sexual assault and she did not wish to pursue a criminal investigation.”

Dennison says she clearly reported that she was sexually assaulted that night. It’s noted repeatedly by medical providers in her hospital records.

The detective’s memo also states, “Ofc. Frost stated after consuming several alcoholic beverages, she lost consciousness and when she awoke she noticed ‘Armour was having sex with me,’ but she allowed Ofc. Armour to continue. She does not know why she did not try and stop him or why she did not tell him ’no.’”

Advocates call this memo deeply troubling and concerning, especially since it was approved by a sergeant, lieutenant, commander, and assistant chief.

Phoenix did conduct an internal investigation in 2010, which cleared Armour of any misconduct.

ABC15 requested copies of all internal investigations involving Armour eight months ago in September.

The city has not produced those records.

Last year, Dennison also requested a copy of the 2010 internal investigation and is still waiting for a response.

But attorneys, who’ve gone up against Armour in criminal and civil cases and obtained all available records in his file during the discovery process, said there’s nothing left. Phoenix police routinely purge misconduct files after several years.


Armour joined Phoenix police in 2007, records show.

But his career ended early in 2019 when the city approved a disability retirement. He receives a pension and benefits.

During his 12 years on the force, Armour was celebrated as a productive officer and praised with commendations. He was once named “Officer of the Month” in his precinct in 2015.

But Armour was also internally investigated at least 14 times and suspended twice, according to records and summaries obtained by ABC15.

His first suspension levied after he shot himself in the leg with a “concealed gun” with an “unauthorized modification” while helping a citizen.

The second suspension for falsely arresting a woman after entering her apartment without probable cause. Investigators determined that Armour lied to his supervisor and in his written report about the incident.

The second suspension was for 80 hours and landed Armour on the “Brady list.”

However, Phoenix did not report the case to the Arizona Peace Officer Standards and Training Board (AZPOST) for a certification review.

AZPOST often revokes the license of officers who are found to be dishonest.

“I really think that (Phoenix police) are scared of the truth,” said Dennison. “They’re scared of what they could find because the ramifications of what happened 10 years ago would mean he wasn’t in a position to take advantage of other victims.”

Armour is the subject of two ongoing federal lawsuits.

In one case, Phoenix police and Maricopa County prosecutors unlawfully withheld evidence of Armour’s history of misconduct during a criminal trial.

The second lawsuit, which is on appeal, was filed by JeAnna Anderson, who alleged Armour sexually assaulted her during a traffic stop in October 2015.

Anderson lost her civil trial late last year. [As she appeals, the city is demanding that Anderson pay more than $250,000 in legal fees.]

RELATED: Former Phoenix police officer 'secretly recorded' women during police stops

Dennison said it was hard to learn that other women have accused Armour of sexual assault. She was contacted by Anderson’s attorneys and agreed to testify on her behalf but was blocked by the judge.

One of the reasons the court prevented Dennison from testifying was because the judge said there weren’t other allegations in the five years between her case and Anderson’s case, court records show.

But ABC15 obtained internal police documents that show there was a similar allegation in late 2012.

The following is a summary of the investigation, which was closed by Phoenix investigators after three months.

“Mr. [redacted] wrote a letter to Adult Probation that his healthcare aide, Ms. [redacted], relayed to him she engaged in sexual activity with on-duty police officers. He provided nude and suggestive photographs of Ms. [redacted] to investigators to support this assertion. Because she appeared to be unconscious in one of the photos SID initiated an investigation, and found she was contacted by Ofcr Anthony Armour 8605 and Keith Backhaus 8523 on 10/17/11 for possession of heroin, and these officers subsequent conducted a records query on Ms. [redacted] on eight additional dates. SID placed a file stop on Ms. [redacted] but has been unable to locate her for an interview. Forward for closure pending interview of Ms. [redacted].”

The summary does not show that Armour and his partner were interviewed. The case was given a priority level of “medium” before it was closed.

“I’ve carried with me the weight and the guilt of not pressing charges 10 years ago and wondered: If I had pressed charges, if I had sad yes, and kept that yes, that he wouldn’t have been an officer any more,” Dennison said. “He wouldn’t have been able to do the things he did to these other people.”


In 2010, Abby Dennison believed Phoenix further investigated the case when six officials left the hospital that night after her alleged sex assault.

But she learned that wasn’t the case by watching an ABC15 report last year about JeAnna Anderson’s lawsuit. The story revealed the 2010 memo authored by the detective stated that police didn’t even create an incident report.

“I believed for 10 years they investigated this,” Dennison said through tears. “And they didn’t.”

In late October, Dennison contacted the Maricopa County Attorney’s Office and requested a new investigation into Anthony Armour.

Why MCAO? She didn’t trust Phoenix police because of how she was treated in 2010, and since the department was currently being sued twice, including a case for hiding his misconduct during a criminal trial.

“I believed for 10 years they investigated this,” Dennison said through tears. “And they didn’t.”

Dennison urged county prosecutors to ask Phoenix police to refer the case to another agency but the city pushed back.

“They said that they disagree whole-heartedly, and that they can cross the T’s and dot the I’s better than anyone,” she said. “But if that was my wish, that I would need to go find another agency and let them know once I’ve shopped around for another agency to take my case that they would send over the material.”

Dennison provided ABC15 with an email from Phoenix investigators to prove it.

A Phoenix commander said if Dennison wanted to have another agency investigate that she would have to find one and let them know.

“We decided that we were just going to let Phoenix take it because I felt like we were put in a position to have no other choice,” Dennison said.

A month before Phoenix re-opened the case, officials had responded to ABC15’s reports about Armour by minimizing what happened to Dennison.

The Phoenix Police Department sent an email response to “clarify” that the 2010 memo about Dennison’s claims did not involve sexual assault but rather “inappropriate sexual interaction.”

RELATED: Experts: Phoenix police sanitizing lying officer’s sex assault claim

“It was a sexual assault,” she said. “For them to say it’s an inappropriate sexual interaction, it’s minimizing. It’s an insult to my intelligence. It’s an insult to all of the women who have ever been in this unfortunate situation.”

While Phoenix police declined an interview request for this report, ABC15 did speak to Chief Jeri Williams about Brady list officers and Armour last year.

Williams was asked about the phrase, “inappropriate sexual interaction.”

ABC15: Do you agree with that phrasing? Classifying it as that?
WILLIAMS: I know for a fact that on the second page of that memo it says that officer did not say it was a sexual assault at that moment. We do understand victimology as it comes to sexual assault and the fact that if she wants to reopen that she can. And again, I’m not going to talk about that case because it’s being litigated.
ABC15: So your PIO office, they respond, they say a woman who wakes up with a man having sex with her, that’s “inappropriate sexual interaction.” Advocates worry that sends a really negative message to victims and survivors about reporting their allegations to Phoenix police.
WILLIAMS: Is that a question?
ABC15: It is.
WILLIAMS: Because the way I look at it Dave, we do treat sexual assaults seriously. You’re talking about a case that happened back in 2015 back before Jeri Williams was the police chief. I would hope that in spite of the discussion that we’re having right now that we’re still showing up for calls for service, we’re still taking sexual assault seriously, and when people bring behavior to my attention, I am absolutely going to address it.

Phoenix completed their new investigation into Dennison’s allegations against Armour in late March.

The department declined to submit charges.

“The Phoenix Police Department conducted investigations into the 2010 claim using processes that respect the rights of both the accuser and the accused,” a spokesperson wrote in the city’s emailed response. “Based on currently known facts of this case, the investigation has been closed. There was insufficient evidence corroborating the allegation.”

Dennison recorded the call when a commander and sergeant told her the reasons why.

The officials told her it came down to “a matter of consent.” It was a “he-said she-said” case. There were no witnesses who saw any sexual acts. But one person walked by the closed bedroom door and thought he heard consensual sex and Dennison willingly participating.

On the call, the police did not address the tampon stuck inside of Dennison. She said she was too upset and distraught to confront them about it.

ABC15 obtained a copy of the 2020 investigation from Phoenix in advance of this report.

Officials redacted key pieces of information in the report and other critical details. For example, ABC15 determined the word tampon was repeatedly blacked out.

Investigators interviewed Dennison, Armour, other attendants of the get-together, and two others who she spoke with following the alleged assault.

Armour told investigators that Dennison never “gave any indication she did not want to have sex or that she said no.”

During her forensic interview, Dennison voluntarily said she had a snapshot memory of “moaning” and possibly saying “f*** me.”

The way she further described feeling in that moment matches what experts said can happen to victims during an assault.

“I remember having a thought of did I want this? Like why is (this happening),” she said during the interview. “I felt very out of my body and just very, like, confused as to what was going on.”

While there’s a full transcript of Dennison’s interview included in the investigative report, all of the other interviews were paraphrased.

From the report, it is not clear if Armour was asked to explain the dislodged tampon.

The tampon was not mentioned at all in the final summary of the case.

“I think they’re afraid,” Dennison said. “I think again, it goes back to, it’s like dominoes. If they were to acknowledge he did wrong in 2010, that he committed a crime, that he violated me, that every other incident, every other allegation of misconduct just would not have existed because he would have been fired. That’s a liability on the department.”

Dennison got married in 2011, and she left the Phoenix Police Department in 2015.

She left to take care of her first-born.

Dennison and her husband couldn’t balance conflicting schedules because he’s a Phoenix officer who’s still with the department.

She said it’s more proof that she’s got nothing to gain by coming forward other than telling the truth and hoping for change.

“(I get) nothing. Talking about my body in public. Shame. My reputation. Having people I know, I worked with, throw out their opinion of whether they believe me and probably ruin friendships and relationships because they don’t want to be messed in with this,” Dennison said. “But I can’t sit by and just allow this and allow it to happen and not say something. Because that sense of justice didn’t go away in 2015. I still have it.”

She ended the interview by saying, “I get nothing from this. Just more heartache.”

If you have experienced sexual assault and need assistance call, text, or chat the Arizona Sexual and Domestic Violence Helpline Monday through Friday 8:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. You can get connected to local resources or to talk to a victim advocate by calling 602-279-2980, texting 520-720-3383, accessing chat services online here For 24 hour support, call the National Sexual Assault Hotline at 800-656-4673 to get connected to your local sexual assault provider.

Contact ABC15 Investigator Dave Biscobing at