D.C. Council probe on sex assaults gets legal help

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Local,DC,Crime,Alan Blinder,Cathy L. Lanier,D.C. Council,Tommy Wells

A law firm has agreed to probe allegations on behalf of the D.C. Council that the Metropolitan Police Department failed to investigate at least 170 sexual assaults.

Ward 6 Councilman Tommy Wells, who chairs the council's public safety committee, said Tuesday that Crowell & Moring had agreed to work on a pro bono basis to investigate the charges that Human Rights Watch leveled in a report earlier this year.

"Crowell & Moring brings an unquestioned professionalism and sterling reputation to this independent, third-party review of the report's findings and MPD's response," Wells said in a statement.

The lawmaker said his committee would conduct "a thorough and thoughtful analysis" on Human Rights Watch's report.

The organization rattled the District last month when its 196-page report claimed that "police re-victimized survivors by treating them callously and skeptically, discouraged sexual assault survivors from reporting their assault or getting a forensic exam and in some instances threatened them with prosecution for false reporting."

Police Chief Cathy Lanier has slammed the report as one from a publicity-hungry group that used a flawed methodology to assail her agency.

Lanier has also said the report could also deter victims of sexual assault from reporting incidents to authorities.

ablinder@washingtonexaminer.com

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