FOX10 News Investigates: Mobile sexual assault cases

Mobile County court case files
Mobile County court case files(FOX10 News)
Updated: Dec. 2, 2019 at 10:15 PM CST
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MOBILE, Ala. (WALA) - FOX10 News Investigates is taking a closer look at sexual assault cold cases in Mobile.

Since last year, a grant has allowed the police department to clear its backlog of sexual assault kits.

Tandice Hogan, sexual assault prosecutor for the Mobile County District Attorney’s Office said, “It used to be something that happened behind closed doors that wasn’t talked about and that was swept under the rug, or, you know, kind of neglected as we see with these kits that sat in property for so long.”

A total of 757 kits to be exact. All shipped off to be tested or retested thanks to a federal grant. Now, we’re seeing the results of those tests.

Mobile Police say of the nearly 800 tests, DNA in 139 cases had hits on the FBI’s Combined DNA Index System, or CODIS, database.

Eighty-three cases will not move forward in court because the suspect or victim is dead or the victim did not want to relive the pain and testify in court.

Forty-three cases are in various stages of investigation...Some moving toward a prosecution.

Nine suspects were already charged with sexual assault. Retesting the kits was done to ensure police had the right person.

And in the past year, four recent arrests have been made.

Lt. Matthew James with the Mobile Police Department said, “Lorenzo Green was involved in a 1997 case, where he allegedly broke into a home and assaulted the victim in front of her children.

And Frederick Tate was involved and also in a 1997 case and in his case he allegedly pulled the victim behind the vacant house.”

Roderick Williams is another one of MPD’s recent arrests. He allegedly assaulted a 13-year-old 20 years ago. He goes to court in January.

Potential justice for three victims...something that could be out of reach for others, or come in a different way.

Hogan said, “Our measure of success isn’t just prosecuting cases, it’s reaching out to victims who thought that they were forgotten about for 20 years, 30 years, and having a conversation with them and saying you know you weren’t forgotten and we’re going to do whatever we can do to find your perpetrator.”

One victim was just three years old at the time she was assaulted. Last year, MPD identified a suspect. The problem, He was 17 at the time of the alleged rape.

“The juvenile court would have jurisdiction over him until he turned 21 years old at the time we discovered that he was the perpetrator he was well beyond 21 years old, and the law changed in 1994 to allow transfers from juvenile court to adult court automatically depending on the charge, however, that didn’t take place till 1994 and it’s not retroactive so in 1989, the law was that he would have to be treated as a juvenile, and we lost that jurisdiction,” said Hogan.

Lt. James said, “It’s very frustrating. He was released from prison from another sexual assault, that occurred years after that incident. He was actually released late last year and he’s one of the sex offenders we are currently monitoring.”

Mobile Police reached out to the victim who doesn’t exactly remember the crime, but says it somehow still haunts her.

“She told the investigator that she remembered it is a dream, and was unsure, you know what happened to her but she would have this reoccurring dream.....She was relieved and it answered a lot of questions for her about why she was having those nightmares. It is an unfortunate incident so we’re not able to move forward with her case but they believe that she’s gained some closure from from knowing what happened to her,” Lt. James said.

We asked the Mobile County Sheriff’s Office if it has a backlog on rape cases and a spokesperson told me, it does not.