Special Victims Unit That Led Weinstein Inquiry Is Under Investigation

The New York Times 1 month ago

Internal affairs investigators from the New York Police Department are probing allegations of serious misconduct by high-ranking officials in its Special Victims Division, including a sergeant who oversaw the troubled investigation of Harvey Weinstein, according to the police and four people with knowledge of the investigation.

The Police Department’s top spokeswoman, Devora Kaye, confirmed the investigation on Tuesday after it was reported by The Daily Beast, but did not say who was being investigated. She said in a statement the inquiry was not related to the division’s “day-to-day investigative work or any particular sex crime cases it is investigating.”

“Internal Affairs is investigating allegations of isolated incidents of both the misuse of time and a department vehicle within the Special Victims Division,” she said.

A handful of people appeared to be under investigation, including Sgt. Keri L. Thompson, the commander of the DNA cold case squad who directed the 10-month investigation of Mr. Weinstein, according to two of the people with knowledge of the case.

Investigators were searching for dozens of rape evidence kits that detectives in the Bronx had picked up from local hospitals but did not submit to the city medical examiner’s officer for testing, a violation of department policy, one former chief familiar with the inquiry said, speaking on the condition of anonymity to discuss an open investigation.

The investigation also involves a black Ford Taurus that belonged to Sergeant Thompson’s squad. The car was badly damaged under suspicious circumstances in the Bronx and taken out of service, the former chief said.

On Friday morning, internal investigators raided three of the sex crimes unit’s offices, including the division’s Manhattan headquarters, and confiscated roughly 30 logbooks that documented the actions of detectives, supervisors and commanders, two of the people with knowledge of the case said. Sergeant Thompson’s duties involve visits to all three locations, they said.

“Something serious is afoot,” the former chief said. “And the taking of the logs is the final step in the investigation.”

The logbooks, which date back to January 2018, were also taken from the offices of the Manhattan special victims squad and the DNA cold-case squad in the Bronx, three people familiar with the investigation said. Two additional log books were confiscated in February from the Manhattan squad, according to one of the people.

The investigation is being conducted by Internal Affairs Group 1, a unit generally tasked with investigating misconduct by officers with the rank of captain and above, and about eight people in the division fit that description. That suggests the inquiry may implicate one of the division’s commanders, all four people with knowledge of the matter said.

“It’s telling that it goes from very specific units up to the division,” one of them, a former Brooklyn chief, said. “There’s got to be a boss involved.”

Deputy Chief Judith R. Harrison was appointed commander of the Special Victims Division in November, in an overhaul after a city report criticized the department for neglecting sex crimes investigations. The period covered by the investigation predates her arrival.

Even though the inquiry is not focused on the Weinstein investigation, it could have an effect on the case against the producer, who is set to go to trial in January on charges of rape, criminal sexual act and predatory sexual assault based on the allegations of two women.

Mr. Weinstein’s defense team is likely to use the inquiry to discredit the police investigation. One of the charges against Mr. Weinstein was dismissed by a judge last year after it emerged that a detective on the case, Nick DiGuadio, failed to reveal inconsistencies in the account of one of Mr. Weinstein’s accusers. Sergeant Thompson had supervised Detective DiGuadio.

On Tuesday, Mr. Weinstein’s lawyer, Donna Rotunno, said in a statement, “We understand that there were severe irregularities in the investigative work.”

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