Tue. Nov 28th, 2023
After 2 months, Chicago police accountability office unable to find witnesses in migrant sex misconduct investigation, council member says

CHICAGO — After more than two months, the Civilian Office of Police Accountability has not located any witnesses in its investigation of allegations of sexual misconduct involving at least one Chicago police officer and a migrant housed at the Ogden District station on the West Side.

Kiisha Smith, the chair of the Ogden District Council, said during the police council’s monthly meeting on Tuesday that a COPA representative gave her the update last Friday.

“Really, nothing’s changed,” Smith told the 30 or so meeting attendees. “They (COPA) stated that they still haven’t found the complaining asylum-seekers, so they still don’t have names, they say they don’t know where they are. I offered to advise them of where the locations were … like if they didn’t know we would provide the information for them to use in the investigation. They claim they knew, but nobody was speaking up.”

Ephraim Eaddy, COPA’s first deputy chief administrator, said in a statement Wednesday that the agency’s investigation remains open and ongoing.

“We are committed to transparency and a thorough investigation and will provide an update to the public upon conclusion,” Eaddy said.

The investigation was opened in early July after a text message, circulated among police officers and other city employees, alleged that an officer assigned to the Ogden District had engaged in a sexual relationship with a 17-year-old female migrant who was housed at the police station, located at 3315 W. Ogden Ave.

Less than two weeks later, on July 18, COPA’s chief administrator, Andrea Kersten, called a news conference to announce that the office had not, so far, located any victims or witnesses to corroborate any allegations.

“Since receiving notification of this allegation, COPA has been working to substantiate whether these allegations in fact occurred, as well as to identify the source of the initial allegation,” Kersten said at the time. “Anytime you’re investigating an allegation of sexual misconduct … (there) are incredibly powerful barriers to people feeling they can trust a system and come forward and share their experiences.”

However, Kersten did note that COPA started investigating another allegation of a CPD officer engaging in sexual misconduct with a migrant housed at the Town Hall District station on the North Side.

The Tribune obtained a copy of the text message that spurred the investigation and confirmed that the named officer, a field training officer, was assigned to the Ogden District at the time the allegation was lodged.

Court records show that the 29-year-old officer was part of at least one arrest and one traffic stop in the Ogden District in the weeks after COPA’s investigation was announced. An attorney who previously represented the officer in civil court did not respond to several requests for comment.


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