Coverage of Chicago Police Rape Allegation Another Indictment of Media
For Chicago’s warped media, some sex crimes are just sexier than others
On Thursday, July 6, Chicago Tribune reporter Sam Charles published an article claiming the City of Chicago’s police oversight agency, the Civilian Office of Police Accountability (COPA), was investigating allegations that a police officer had engaged in a sexual relationship with an underage migrant woman sheltering at the Chicago Police Department’s 10th District.
“For months, migrants bused to Chicago from Texas have found themselves housed in Chicago police stations in difficult circumstances, leaving city and state leaders stunned Friday by allegations that officers at one of the police facilities may have had sexual contact with at least one of those seeking shelter there.”
Salivating at the opportunity to bludgeon Chicago police, nearly every media outlet jumped on the story in both print coverage and social media blasts. Clearly, every detail of the allegations and investigation by COPA would be pored over by Chicago’s legion of self-described “investigative reporters.” Over the course of the next few days, however, the “investigative” aspect of the case proved somewhat lacking, culminating in a bizarre press conference in which the chief administrator of COPA, Andrea Kersten, revealed the agency she oversees was having trouble finding any victims.
Now, wait a minute. There is a maxim police learn swiftly after entering the profession: No victim, no crime. If COPA does not have a victim, what then is Kersten’s organization investigating? Could it be a witness who brought the information forward? What proof does the witness have? Who is the witness? Is the witness credible? There are so many unanswered questions here, and more are likely to emerge.
Shortly after the CPD “sex-abuse” story broke, the administrators with Chicago crime blog Second City Cop plainly explained that because of a provision in the massive anti-police legislation, the Safety Act, complainants are no longer required to sign an affidavit to substantiate the truthfulness of their claim. This circumstance requires several questions be asked and answered: First, is COPA’s investigation merely the result of someone arbitrarily lodging allegations against police for personal reasons or as a vendetta against an officer? Second, is rumor all that is required to gin up a media attack on Chicago police officers?
Let’s consider the press conference held by COPA’s Andrea Kersten two weeks after the “allegations” surfaced. Greeting media, Kersten stated her office had not been able to identify any immigrants as victims of “sexual misconduct” at the hands of CPD. Kersten also insisted the source of the complaint was unknown to her office. An independent media would have bombarded Kersten with questions, many of which would force her to explain the origins of the allegations and what it means that her office cannot produce a victim. Because of Chicago’s notoriously lazy media, Kersten was not called to account.
Add to this scenario the troubled history between the city’s civilian oversight agencies and the media. The union that represents police officers, the Fraternal Order of Police (FOP) has accused COPA and its predecessor IPRA of leaking information to the press that led to high profile stories against police officers. Some of those media leaks, the union alleged, were utterly false. In one instance, the FOP also discovered that COPA had failed to disclose a ruling from an expert witness to prosecutors, the police superintendent, and the public, which had determined an officer’s actions in a fatal shooting were justified.
Any sex crime committed against an underage woman, especially under the authority of a police officer, is an abhorrent crime. Such a crime is an especially painful betrayal of the public trust, for it paints the police as little better than the offenders themselves. Nonetheless, public trust is also crucial in the media, and when it comes to reporting on rape cases, the depravity of the Chicago media is truly revealed.
Compare Chicago media’s response to the allegations against a Chicago police officer accused of engaging in a sex crime with an underage migrant against similar crimes committed by non-police.
Stanley Wrice was sentenced to 100 years in prison in 1983 for his role in a barbaric gang rape of a woman and the subsequent severe burning of his victim in the attic of Wrice’s home. Wrice was able to gain his freedom by claiming misconduct against investigating detectives. However, key developments in the case that should have stirred the curiosity of legitimate media were either wholly ignored or given scant attention. One example is found in the ruling by Judge Thomas J. Byrne denying Wrice a certificate of innocence, ruling the evidence against him was overwhelming.
In another development in the case, testimony emerged from another victim, who claimed that she was regularly raped by Wrice beginning when she was 14 years old. The victim said her first three children were the result of being raped by Wrice. A damning development in the case, this testimony remained ignored by Chicago media.
In a separate, equally gruesome case, the remains of Antwinica Bridgeman were found in the basement of an Englewood dwelling in 1994, which was the home of Nevest Coleman. It was alleged Coleman, along with Darryl Fulton, carried out the brutal rape and murder of Bridgeman, for which both men were found guilty. The two men were freed from behind bars after some bizarre articles in the Tribune penned by columnist Eric Zorn and reporter Greg Pratt, both of whom claimed the men were framed by police.
Defense attorneys for the detectives deposed Foxx’s top prosecutor, Eric Sussman, who stated under oath he did not believe the men were innocent and did not believe the detectives assigned to the case had engaged in any misconduct to obtain confessions. Sussman specifically lambasted one column by Zorn in which Zorn virtually demanded that State’s Attorney Kim Foxx release the men:
“I think Eric Zorn didn't have any understanding of the facts of that case and did not have a basis to be writing the things that he wrote…”
The media’s willingness to launch headline stories over a rape allegation in which the city’s own police oversight agency admitted they can neither locate a victim nor identify a complainant while ignoring evidence that vicious rapists and killers have been set free based upon highly dubious claims of police misconduct begs a question many police in Chicago routinely ask: Is the Chicago media so much a part of the anti-police movement that its scribes and editors do not even care if allegations against the police are true?