Greenwich police document probe of alleged sex assault
GREENWICH — As a case proceeds in federal court from a local family that says the Greenwich Police Department made mistakes in how it handled a complaint of an alleged sexual assault, both sides are taking a widely different view of the case and how it was managed.
Renewed attention is focused on the police file in the case, which was obtained by Greenwich Time through a Freedom of Information Act request.
In court papers, the lawyer representing the family, Meredith Braxton, has called the police response substandard. Lawyers representing the town, meanwhile, have defended the department’s handling of the case and asked for the lawsuit to be dismissed.
The police documents released include the department’s application for an arrest warrant, with names blacked out to preserve the privacy of the young people involved. The file presents a variegated view of the night in question, while certain facts appear to be clearly corroborated.
The lawsuit, filed by the family of the young woman who says she was sexually assaulted in federal court in Hartford (Jane Doe versus the town of Greenwich), says the investigation was a “sham.”
Police detectives were called in to investigate at an end-of-school party held by the family of a teenage girl on June 3, 2016. The lawsuit says a then-16-year-old Brunswick student forced himself on the girl, pulled her clothing down and groped her genital area while she struggled to get away during the attack in a pool house at the party. The girl was attending Greenwich Academy, which has an affiliation with Brunswick School for shared classes and social events. The alleged perpetrator, also 16, was attending Brunswick.
While the federal lawsuit says the police ran a substandard investigation, the police affidavit demonstrates that it was fairly laborious and attentive to details in the case. For the investigation, police interviewed some 10 people who were at the party, and it runs 19 pages long.
Some witnesses indicated that something bad had happened in the pool house.
One witness told a police detective the young lady was seen coming “out of the bathroom approximately 5-10 minutes later (after she went in) and noticed she had a red mark/scratch her left shoulder area.”
Another witness said the girl “didn’t seem like her normal self.”
Yet, another witness told police, “There was no sense of hysteria on the victim’s face and she greeted him normally after she left the pool house area.”
The police report also notes, “All three times she was consistent with her story,” when presenting it to friends who were interviewed, and authority figures.
The police report states the young man who was alleged to have forced himself on the Greenwich Academy student was highly intoxicated, and later had no memory of the events. He was said to have been behaving in a belligerent manner, choking the brother of the young woman, and behaving recklessly with other party guests.
His family acquired a lawyer, and he declined to be voluntarily interviewed by police, according to the document.
The application for an arrest warrant, on a charge of fourth-degree sexual assault, was not approved by the state’s attorney in Stamford. State’s Attorney Richard Colangelo did not return messages seeking comment.
The federal lawsuit against the police department highlights what the family and their lawyer say were major deficiencies. The suit maintains that the police investigation was slow off the mark, allowing the Brunswick administration to interview students before the police did. It says police did not subpoena social-media accounts of the young people involved, and it faulted police investigators for not setting up face-to-face interviews with all the participants. Statements were allowed to be given in a number of cases, the suit contends, “without any kind of challenging questioning by police.”
Braxton and the local family are also suing the Brunswick School administration.
Lawyers for the town and the police department filed a motion to dismiss the case earlier this month.
More filings and counterarguments are expected next month.
The lawsuit against Brunswick is continuing in Superior Court.