MCSO releases finding on botched sex crimes cases

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By Jennifer Thomas By Jennifer Thomas

PHOENIX -- The investigation and controversy surrounding allegations of more than 400 botched sex crimes cases in Maricopa County goes back years. 

However, MCSO says the internal investigation is now officially closed, after releasing 10,000 pages worth of documents and a letter written by MCSO Executive Chief Brian Sands.

In the document, he describes a "systemic problem." As a result, the supervisors and detectives who initially faced potential disciplinary action were cleared. Sands said, instead, from 2004 to 2008, the MCSO Sex Crimes Unit was inadequately resourced to complete its tasks.

"Office personnel fell short of fulfilling their essential job functions because they were assigned or were required to manage an overwhelming volume of cases," he writes. "The total number of detectives assigned to the unit was insufficient; budget restrictions limited overtime hours; and the tools provided were insufficient to meet operational challenges."

However, Maricopa County Supervisor Mary Rose Wilcox, critical of the sheriff's office, said she's not satisfied with the findings.

"What does he mean he didn't have resources?" Wilcox said. "In 2007, we gave him $600,000 for six positions."

3TV asked MCSO for a comment regarding the use of that money, but did not receive a comment.

Sheriff Joe Arpaio publicly apologized for the mishandling of sex crimes cases in 2011. The sheriff declined on-camera interviews on Monday, but MCSO said in its report that each of the sex crimes cases were re-evaluated and cases requiring additional work were assigned to a detective.

In addition, MCSO said the agency's entire system for managing SVU cases has been overhauled, which includes additional training, additional resources and a new records management system to be overhauled later this year.

Of the hundreds of cases called into question, 28 remain under review by the county attorney’s office for possible charging. A spokesman told 3TV he cannot comment on where the cases stand today.

"My heart goes out to the families who have suffered for long periods of time," Wilcox said. "We have no idea if their cases will be solved."