Cops go unpunished for abuse, suit says

By: Jason Meisner, Chicago Tribune: May 25th, 2011

A 22-year-old woman who was allegedly raped by two on-duty Chicago police officers filed a federal lawsuit Wednesday alleging a “widespread practice” of abuse within the department that goes largely unpunished.

The suit alleged that the abuse was facilitated by a “code of silence” among officers and an unwillingness by supervisors to investigate wrongdoing.

“Chicago police officers accused of sexual misconduct against citizens can be confident that the city will not investigate those accusations in earnest,” the lawsuit charged.

Officers Paul Clavijo and Juan Vasquez, both 38, were charged this month with criminal sexual assault and official misconduct in the March 30 alleged assault. Clavijo was also charged in an alleged on-duty sexual assault of a 26-year-old woman March 10.

Prosecutors have said the first victim did not immediately report the sexual assault because she was intimidated, but the lawsuit contended she had told investigators before the second alleged sexual assault.

“This other victim reported the rape, yet the Chicago Police Department allowed (Clavijo and Vasquez) to retain their employment as patrol officers, thus enabling them to commit a similar crime… less than one month later,” the lawsuit said.

Lawyers representing the city of Chicago and the officers said they had not seen the suit and would not comment.

Prosecutors said Clavijo and Vasquez were on patrol in a marked police SUV on March 30 when they saw the alleged victim walking alone near Wrigley Field about 2 a.m. and offered a ride to her Rogers Park apartment, located several miles outside their patrol district.

While Vasquez went into a liquor store to buy booze, Clavijo sexually assaulted the woman in the front seat of the vehicle, prosecutors said. Later, the officers followed the victim into her apartment, where they allegedly played strip poker and raped her.

The lawsuit charged that the woman “did not consent in any way” to having sex with the officers.

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