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911 police call results in rape, woman says

Officer later was fired but not prosecuted; federal investigation is in progress


By Gina Barton of the Journal Sentinel


Jan. 16, 2011


Federal authorities have launched a criminal investigation against a recently fired Milwaukee police officer accused of sexually assaulting a woman after he responded to her 911 call in July.


Former officer Ladmarald Cates admitted to internal affairs investigators that he had sex with the woman, who called police because teenagers were trying to kick in the door of her north side home, according to police records obtained by the Journal Sentinel.


Police Chief Edward Flynn fired Cates, who gave conflicting stories to department officials, for lying and for "idling and loafing" - because having sex on duty is against department rules. Cates has appealed his dismissal to the civilian Fire and Police Commission, which has the power to give him his job back.


The woman's account suggests the system designed to protect the public from rogue police officers broke down at several levels. And it isn't the first time an on-duty Milwaukee police officer has been accused of sexual assault.


The woman called 911 for help, but when police arrived she was victimized repeatedly - sexually assaulted, mistreated by backup officers and then jailed on trumped-up charges when she refused to remain silent, according to her attorney, Robin Shellow.


The Journal Sentinel does not name victims of sexual assault.


In an interview with the newspaper, the woman said numerous officers - on the scene and at the police station - accused her of lying when she begged for help and asked them to take her to the hospital.


The Milwaukee County district attorney's office spent two months reviewing the case but didn't charge Cates. The woman said that during that time, prosecutors ignored her phone calls.


"In all honesty, I just want to die," said the woman, a mother of two young children. "I know I can't die right now, because I got the kids. But if I could find someone to take care of my kids as good as me, I'd just end it. I think about it every day and every night.  . . . I'm sick of thinking about it. I'm sick of crying. I'm sick of people calling me a liar."


The FBI and U.S. attorney's office opened a federal investigation after the district attorney's office declined to prosecute Cates. In an October letter to Flynn, Assistant District Attorney Aaron E. Hall said he believed the woman's account but didn't think he would be able to prove a sexual assault case in court.


"While I did find the victim's version of events credible, I did not believe that her testimony would be strong enough to successfully prosecute Officer Cates," Hall wrote in the letter to Flynn.


Chief Deputy District Attorney Kent Lovern said prosecutors also considered charging Cates with misconduct in public office but decided against that as well.


"We always have to consider how a jury will react in considering evidence against a police officer," he told the Journal Sentinel.


When a citizen accuses an officer of wrongdoing, department protocol calls for a supervisor to be summoned to the scene. The supervisor then determines whether an investigator from internal affairs, known as the Professional Performance Division, should be dispatched. In sexual assault cases, investigators from the Sensitive Crimes Division also are supposed to be notified promptly.


Those things didn't happen in this case, according to the woman's account.


The woman says she told officers on the scene that Cates raped her. It appears that a sergeant responded two hours after the initial 911 call, according to dispatch records. But no one from internal affairs or Sensitive Crimes took a statement from the woman on the scene. Instead of being taken immediately to the hospital for treatment and evidence collection, she spent approximately 12 hours in jail before speaking with a sergeant or being interviewed by internal affairs. Only after that did she receive medical attention.


Besides Cates, no officers have been disciplined for violating those practices or for any other conduct connected with the incident, according to Milwaukee police spokeswoman Anne E. Schwartz. She declined to answer specific questions about the woman's allegations and did not make Flynn or any supervisors in District 3, where the incident occurred, available for an interview.


The Police Department declined to release reports of its internal investigation into Cates' behavior, citing the pending federal investigation. The department also would not release a photo of Cates.


Cates, 43, did not answer the door at his home and did not respond to a letter left there. His former partner, Alvin Hannah, could not be reached. Cates' attorney, Jonathan Cermele, did not return telephone calls.

Studied criminal justice


The woman was 19 at the time of the incident and had been living on her own, with the help of the foster care system, for four years. In addition to raising her children, ages 2 and 3, she had been given custody of her 15-year-old brother by the courts because of their mother's drug addiction. She was studying criminal justice at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee.


The woman, now 20, has been ticketed for numerous traffic violations since 2006, according to online municipal court records. She also was ticketed for resisting and obstructing an officer in December 2009.


"I want to be someone in life, to help other people," she said. "But now I'm kind of lost."


During a 2 1/2 -hour interview with the Journal Sentinel, the woman provided a detailed account of what happened. On the afternoon of July 16, some teenage girls in the neighborhood were harassing her as she sat on the porch, she said. She went inside. But instead of leaving her alone, the girls started throwing bricks through the windows and trying to kick in the door, so she called 911. Cates and Hannah responded, according to police dispatch records.


Although the teens who had thrown the bricks were still outside, the officers didn't talk to them, the woman said. Instead, she said, they seemed focused on getting everyone but her out of the house.


First, the officers urged her to call someone to pick up her children, which she did.


Hannah then handcuffed the woman's brother, saying there was a missing persons report out on him, she said.


The woman had been in court three weeks earlier to file for guardianship of her brother, she said. She showed the officers check stubs for payments she received from the state to care for him under the kinship foster care program. She also called her social worker, who got on the phone with the officers and confirmed her brother was supposed to be living with her, she said. Hannah took her brother out to his squad car anyway.


Cates then gave her boyfriend $10 and told him to go to the store for some water, the woman said.


"I asked him did he want some water from the refrigerator," she said. "He said, 'Oh no, that water looks cloudy.' "


Her boyfriend - the father of both children - walked to the store a couple of blocks away, he confirmed.


Cates then asked the woman to follow him to the back of the house so he could see the damage, she said. She showed him broken windows in the bathroom, then reached behind the toilet to pick up a brick that had landed there. She turned around to find the officer with his pants down, she said. He demanded oral sex. Shocked and afraid, she complied. Afterward, Cates raped her, she said. He did not use a condom.


Then he let her go.


"I ran outside crying, saying, 'He raped me. He just raped me.' "

Arrest follows protests


The woman's 15-year-old brother, who by then had been uncuffed and let out of the squad car, started shouting at Cates and his partner. Hannah put him in a chokehold, the woman said.


When the woman, who weighs 105 pounds, tried to come to her brother's defense, Cates came up behind her, she said.


"He embraced me like he knew me," she said. "I didn't want him touching me."


When she struggled, Cates shoved her toward one of her friends, who was standing nearby. He told them to be quiet or they would be going to jail, the woman said. But she didn't stop saying that he had raped her. When Cates overheard, he threw her to the ground, she said.


According to dispatch records, Cates and Hannah called for backup using the urgent code "officer needs assistance," which signals all available officers in the area to respond.


At least 10 showed up, according to the records.


The woman said she told one of the backup officers what had happened and asked him to take her to the hospital.


"He cracked up laughing," she said. "He said, 'You're not going to the hospital. You're going to jail. Quit lying.' "


At the police station, she told the booking officer about the rape. He didn't believe her either, she said.


Cates came into the holding cell while she was waiting to be questioned, she said.


"He said, 'You better tell them you made it up.' . . . I was looking down. He said look at him in his face. He said if I tell, he and his partners will be coming to see me."


She told Cates she would recant the accusations, but she did not. Instead, she asked to speak with a supervisor. A sergeant whose name she does not know came to talk with her.


"He said I ain't gonna get out of jail by lying. I said, 'I'm not lying. Could you please help me by getting me to a hospital?' "


Shortly after that, about 12 hours after the woman first called 911, an internal affairs detective came to talk to her. The detective, Reginald Thompson, called an ambulance, which took her to Aurora Sinai Medical Center for treatment and collection of evidence, she said.


Thompson also interviewed the woman at the hospital and seemed to believe her, she said. Nonetheless, she was taken back to jail, where she was detained two more days. She was not charged with any crime.

Cates' statements


Flynn's internal complaint against Cates, obtained by the Journal Sentinel, summarizes numerous statements Cates made to internal affairs investigators.


The day after the incident, Cates told Thompson he did not have sexual contact with the woman after her 911 call. However, he said the two had met about nine months before, when he pulled her over. The two exchanged phone numbers and had consensual sex in his car a couple weeks later, he said.


During a second interview with Thompson the next day, Cates changed his story. This time, he admitted he had oral sex and intercourse with the woman in the wake of the 911 call.


"Officer Cates stated he let his sexual arousal get the best of him," the report says. "Officer Cates knew that having sex while on duty 'wouldn't be OK' and stated he made a stupid decision."


Cates also said he made up the story about having sex with the woman nine months earlier.


"Officer Cates did not know why he fabricated the story that he previously had sex with (the woman)," the report says. "Officer Cates cited being nervous, scared, shocked and tired as reasons for being untruthful," the report says.


Online municipal court records show the woman was ticketed for running a red light and driving with a suspended license in November 2009. She told the Journal Sentinel she recalled being pulled over by Cates around that time. A friend was in the car with her, she said. Cates gave her his telephone number, but she crumpled up the paper and threw it out the window because she thought it was inappropriate for him to be hitting on her, she said. She didn't recognize him when he responded to her July 911 call but later remembered his name, she said.


Because having sex on duty is against department rules, Flynn fired Cates for "idling and loafing" - the same count used to punish officers for sleeping on the job. Each of the two counts of "untruthfulness" also warranted dismissal from the force, according to Flynn's complaint.

Disciplinary record


Cates was hired by the Police Department in 1997. His disciplinary record dates back to 2001 and includes infractions for mistreating a prisoner, lying and failing to carry out the functions of the department in an efficient manner, according to his personnel record. In 2002, he was suspended for two days for "failing to conform to and abide by the criminal laws in effect in the state of Wisconsin," his record says. No further details were available.


He has appealed his firing to the Fire and Police Commission. A hearing on whether he will get his job back has not been scheduled.


Assistant U.S. Attorney Mel Johnson would not discuss the federal investigation of Cates.


Lovern, of the district attorney's office, said local prosecutors were informed of the federal probe a few weeks ago.


"We're certainly willing to assist in any way possible," he said.


Convicting police officers of crimes is "always difficult," Lovern said.


However, officers have been convicted of crimes in recent years, including sexual assault.


In 2007, fired Milwaukee police officer Steven Lelinski was convicted of sexually assaulting women he met on duty and was sentenced to 21 years in prison. For years, the veteran officer acted as a sexual predator in a police uniform, preying on prostitutes, drug addicts and women with warrants he encountered on police calls and assaulting them, knowing their word wouldn't stand up to his, Assistant District Attorney Miriam Falk said at Lelinski's sentencing hearing.


Besides the charged cases of three women, Falk presented allegations against Lelinski from six other women whose cases were too old to prosecute. Several of those were reviewed earlier by the district attorney's office and rejected because prosecutors said the women were not credible enough.


In the wake of the beating of Frank Jude Jr. at a party full of off-duty officers in 2004, three officers were acquitted in state court. Federal authorities then built a separate case, ultimately convicting seven fired officers.


It will likely be months before federal authorities complete their review of the allegations against Cates.


Meanwhile, the woman who says Cates raped her has dropped out of school. She was evicted by her landlord. She is on the verge of losing custody of her brother because of her traumatized state, she said. Six months after the incident with Cates, the woman, who has never been convicted of a crime in Wisconsin, was charged with misdemeanor prostitution and possession of marijuana in connection with a Jan. 5 incident in Fond du Lac County.


She has attempted suicide.


Yet she is holding out hope that Cates will be held accountable for what he did.


"I cry myself to sleep every night," she said. "I would like to see him get about 500 years in prison."


just like a pig......


said it once and i'll say it again...fuck em.


inmates should put hits on these type of dicks.



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when you're paid well to serve humanity, fuck "being human." a mistake would have been "well, i tripped and fell into her pussy?!" I don't completely trust either party but the cop broke the rules and should be fired. at least.


90% of minneapolis cops can get their teeth knocked out so they can give me a gummer.


madison cops have been good at their jobs except the ones that steal coke from evidence to give to their 17 year old boy toys or the ones that pee in bums' liquor bottles while they're passed out.


go packers.


hurs a picture.


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"if hes convited then hes a true douche"

If this woman's story is (even partially) true, he is not a 'true douche', he is a rapist. Rape is not 'douche-y'. It is violent and dehumanizing and reprehensible. And for you to rest your opinion as to whether or not he did it on whether or not he is convicted necessarily and fully ignores the reality that police officers consistently are acquitted of crimes they have in fact committed. The system looks out for its own. Don't tell me it doesn't.


And with that, let's do graf talk.





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The day after the incident, Cates told Thompson he did not have sexual contact with the woman after her 911 call. However, he said the two had met about nine months before, when he pulled her over. The two exchanged phone numbers and had consensual sex in his car a couple weeks later, he said.


During a second interview with Thompson the next day, Cates changed his story. This time, he admitted he had oral sex and intercourse with the woman in the wake of the 911 call.


"Officer Cates stated he let his sexual arousal get the best of him," the report says. "Officer Cates knew that having sex while on duty 'wouldn't be OK' and stated he made a stupid decision."


Cates also said he made up the story about having sex with the woman nine months earlier.


"Officer Cates did not know why he fabricated the story that he previously had sex with (the woman)," the report says.



Convicting police officers of crimes is "always difficult," Lovern said.



Our society is based on a clearly defined and widely accepted yet often unarticulated hierarchy. Violence done by those higher on the hierarchy to those lower is nearly always invisible, that is, unnoticed. When it is noticed, it is fully rationalized. Violence done by those lower on the hierarchy to those higher is unthinkable, and when it does occur is regarded with shock, horror, and the fetishization of the victims.

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