Police investigation continues.
Editor’s note — The names of the alleged victim and her family have been changed to protect their identities. For more information about the change and this story, see editorial.
by Carrie C. Causey
FRANKLINTON — An alleged victim of a December sexual assault, which hadn’t previously been made public, is claiming her case hasn’t been adequately handled by the town’s police department.
At the prompting of her husband, Jane Doe approached The Franklin Weekly about a rape which she states took place outside of her Franklinton home in the middle of the afternoon as she was leaving for work. Her husband had previously commented about the assault at a town board meeting, where he was seeking more police patrols in the area.
When asked by this paper why they were opening up to talk about it now, John Doe said he would have a very hard time if he didn’t tell what happened and it happened again (to someone else). Jane added, their son was her true motive. She worries for his safety and hopes sharing her experience will reinforce the need for more safety measures in town.
John said he is terrified when he leaves his wife and son at home when he isn’t there and wishes that weren’t the case.
The attack allegedly happened in mid-December. At the victim and her family’s request, the report was kept from the public. Citing “special circumstances”, Chief J. Green and other staff acknowledge they didn’t release the report to anyone, including other members of the police department — also at the victim’s request.
Public records law doesn’t provide for incident nondisclosure on a case-by-case basis. Each incident has to be reported to the public, though the officer has the right to withhold the victim’s name or address under certain conditions.
The Does are concerned with how the evidence and case were handled from the very beginning. They allege the detective wasn’t prepared when he came to question them and may have initially overlooked some key evidence.
Green, however, said the case was dealt with like any other. The recently released report states they were limited by the lack of cooperation by the victim and her family. Currently, the matter remains an open investigation with no suspects.
Town Manager Tammy Ray said, because the case is still open, they have been advised by their attorney to not comment on any specifics regarding the investigation.
Due to the nature of the case and the tensions which have followed, the State Bureau of Investigation (SBI) has gotten involved. According to Green, he was told the SBI did not find the police department at fault during any point of its investigation.
Discussion with the victim
Jane said that the day of the incident she was going to her car around noon when she saw a gate open and went to close it. She was attacked and taken to the back of the house where the rape allegedly took place. She was able to thwart further injury by grabbing a gun from her purse and pointing it at the suspect, who fled.
Her first reaction was to go to a home in Wake Forest where she felt the safest. She admits, because of having extended family at the Franklinton Police Department, among other reasons, she had no intention of reporting it in Franklinton — or anywhere. Jane said she initially planned to not tell police at all.
When her family members found her curled up on the couch after several showers, they coaxed her into telling police what happened. Green said after the initial rape call, he sent officers to the scene of the crime at their home as well as Wake Forest to hear her story. A female Wake Forest officer and the Franklinton detective attempted to get her side.
According to the police report, Jane and her family were uncooperative from the beginning.
“While there, the entire family advised me that the victim was highly upset, agitated and afraid,” the report reads.
It further stated that the detective and John “agreed due to her fragile mental state that any contact made with [Ms. Doe] would be done through [John].”
Acknowledging that his wife didn’t really want to talk to police in the first place, John said his larger concern was how he felt the department handled the evidence and how his wife was treated.
According to Jane, she was told to go to WakeMed to get a rape kit completed. Both she and the report confirm she was adamantly against it. However, she was convinced by family to to go WakeMed and sat “alone in a room for an hour,” only to be told she was at the wrong place and needed to go to somewhere else.
Officers have since been told to send patients to the Solace Center, which is a partnership between WakeMed and Interact. At the time of the incident, they believed WakeMed was the designated location for victims of a sexual assault.
John said that he noticed fingerprints on the side of their car. He alleges police didn’t retrieve the fingerprints until the following day after it rained, which could have ruined them. They did take Jane’s gun, but didn’t collect other evidence, including her clothing items.
According to the report, when police requested them, they were told they had been thrown in a trash can. John states he later brought them over to the police station himself.
John said that he called to find out any updates in the case having not gotten any feedback from officers. He said he called the district attorney’s office and was told the evidence had never been sent to the lab to test for DNA.
Not commenting on the specifics of how the evidence was handled in this case, Green said their standard procedure is to wait to send it off with a suspect’s DNA to compare it to in order to make sure it gets priority at the lab.
Items are stored in an evidence room where the DNA can be preserved. It has since been sent to the lab, but results are not back yet, according to Green.
The couple also met with Green and Ray in a meeting where emotions allegedly showed on both sides. According to Jane, they weren’t taking her seriously and made excuses. John admits his anger showed during the meeting and nothing was really accomplished.
Prior to going to the town board meeting, John said he also spoke with several commissioners, but received little response.
Patrols more often
In an effort to prove police haven’t come by his home after his wife’s assault as well as others reported crimes in the area, John stated he installed a camera and tried to see how often he saw police drive by. He claims during a two-day period the answer was zero.
Both Ray and Green are adamant officers and other town staff ride by there multiple times a day. While it may not be on their street, it is on a nearby road where they can still look down and check on the home.