EL MIRAGE, Ariz. -- The victims were as young as 2 years old. They were claiming everything from sexual abuse to rape. All the crimes reportedly took place during years the Maricopa County Sheriff's Office was in charge of enforcing the law in El Mirage. Yet dozens were never investigated. Now, the former assistant police chief is giving the victims a voice.
In November 2005, inside a home in a mobile home park, an 8-year-old girl and her 12-year-old brother claimed their dad was sexually abusing them. Then in August 2006, in a home on Soledad Street, an 8-year-old girl accused her dad of molesting her. In July 2007, a man broke into another home and raped a 13-year-old girl. In all three cases, a detective with MCSO took a report.
"These are real victims, with real lives, who suffered as a result of these crimes," said Bill Louis, the former assistant police chief of El Mirage.
Now retired, Louis was named assistant chief in October 2007. His job -- pick up where MCSO would leave off. The two-year contract to enforce the law in El Mirage was ending and MCSO officers were on their way out.
On the night MCSO pulled out of the city, Sheriff Joe Apraio held a news conference.
"We did do them a big favor the last two years," he said.
Part of Louis' job was to manage the transition, which included taking over all open investigations.
"When they gave us these cases and told us they were all completed cases, we expected that's that what we were going to have," he said.
What Louis discovered still haunts him today. He claims MCSO had "not worked at all" or "had minimal follow up" on dozens of sex crimes casese reported in El Mirage between 2005 and 2007.
"We're talking very serious crimes," Louis said. "We're talking child molestings, we're talking about Internet predators who took advantage of little girls, we're talking about violent sexual assaults, sexual exploitation of minors."
These were investigations that were months, some even years, old. The timing became a huge challenge.
"If you don't do it when it's fresh and all that information is still there, possible and physical and forensic evidence exists, if you don't do that, you lose that possibility," Louis said. "Your ability to successfully prosecute these cases diminishes over time."
Why were so many cases allegedly mishandled? Louis believes it was a deliberate decision made by the sheriff.
"He took investigators out of SVU, moved them over to do his anti-corruption investigations that he was doing on his political enemies, the anti-smuggling people, all these what I call politically driven investigations, immigration enforcement," Louis said.
In 2011, the sheriff publically addressed the issue.
"I apologize to those victims, if there were any," Arpaio said.
From that comment came Louis' book, "If There Were Any Victims."
"I know there were many, many victims and I know Sheriff Joe Arpaio knew at that time there were many, many victims," he said.
The sheriff declined our request for an interview but his office gave this statement: "We haven't read the book so it would be inappropriate to comment on it. However we are aware that Mr. Louis has been a longtime critic of this Office and Sheriff Arpaio and as such, his interpretation of events might be skewed by that fact."
The Maricopa County attorney is currently reviewing the sex crimes from El Mirage as well as the internal investigation within the sheriff's office regarding possibly disciplinary actions.