9 On Your Side Continuing Coverage
Grijalva: Arpaio's lack of action 'disgusting and a dereliction of duty'
Calls of resignation continue after alleged botched investigations of sex-crime cases
Reporter: Claire Doan
TUCSON (KGUN-TV) – Maricopa County’s Sheriff Joe Arpaio is the self-proclaimed “Toughest Sheriff in America,” but now his critics want him to resign.
The Sheriff, known for his tough treatment of prisoners and aggressive immigration raids, is making the headlines again – this time for botched investigations of hundreds of sex-crimes cases in El Mirage.
On Friday, Arpaio’s office told KGUN9 News he was unavailable for additional comments, but his refusal to talk is not silencing his critics. They said the Sheriff who claims he’s tough on crime completely dropped the ball on these cases.
Congressman Raúl Grijalva was the first to call on the Sheriff to resign over the cases.
“While Arpaio is interviewing all the presidential candidates, he and his staff are not interviewing the victims,” Grijalva told 9 On Your Side. “I found that disgusting and a dereliction of duty.”
State Representative Daniel Patterson is also joining the chorus of voices asking Arpaio to step down and calling on his GOP counterparts to leave partisanship aside to chime in. He said that he’s concerned because his Tucson constituents work in Maricopa or have family there.
“Often the victims of sex abuse, including kids, find it very difficult to come forward and tell somebody. In this case, they worked up the courage to report serious crimes and nothing really happened. That to me is a total failure,” Patterson said.
A total failure that is well-documented, according to reports and law enforcement sources in El Mirage. More than 400 sex-crime cases from 2005 to 2007 were not properly investigated or looked into. Dozens of them, mostly involving children, did not progress after the initial report. The oversight also affected the investigations of homicides and robberies.
“I’m hoping this will be a wake-up call not only to voters in that area, but also to the rest of the county – to see that dehumanization of one group perpetuates the violence of a larger group,” said Juanita Molina, the interim executive director of the Border Action Network. She said the recent revelations aren’t surprising, given what she considers his previous human rights violations.
“There’s a little breakdown by my people in investigating these cases, but we did take action with the force and corrected it,” Arpaio told KGUN9 News on Tuesday. “If there was that type of breakdown, I’m sorry it happened. And we’re going to make sure it doesn’t happen again with good management.”
Reporter Claire Doan asked Grijalva to respond to Arpaio’s contention that only foes of the Sheriff's immigration policies are calling attention to the sex crimes cases and asking him to resign.
“I’m a foe of his immigration policy … but I’m also a foe of – and this is the case we’re dealing with right now, as much as he wants to divert the issue – 400 unattended cases of sexual crimes. That’s the issue in front of us,” Grijalva responded.
U.S. Senators Jon Kyl and Jon McCain, two high-ranking Republicans, also weighed in, saying the victims deserve to be taken seriously and that they support any federal efforts to properly investigate and prosecute the crimes.