Green­wich po­lice doc­u­ment probe of al­leged sex as­sault

Stamford Advocate (Sunday) - - News - By Robert Marchant

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.

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