CHICAGO (CBS) – Five child sex offenders remained free until the CBS 2 Investigators got involved.
Not only has the Chicago Police Department (CPD) launched an internal investigation into its mishandling of a child sexual abuse case, but now Mayor Lori Lightfoot is also calling out the systematic failures that allowed these predators to remain free.
As CBS 2 Investigator Dave Savini reported last month, five men are accused of assaulting a 10-year-old girl in a string of sexual assaults dating back to when she was just seven years old.
Officers finally arrested one of these predators, Samuel Brown, 37, late Friday.
Brown has been accused of meeting the girl on a dating app and sexually assaulting her in a Chicago-area garage last May.
Police had DNA evidence linking him to the rape since November, and yet, no investigation, no arrests, and no charges were made.
Brown is already a registered child sex offender. Back in 2003, he was charged with sexually assaulting a minor in Iowa.
In a statement sent Tuesday evening, Lightfoot says she's "outraged" and "horrified." She also wants the detective who oversaw the little girl's case to be held accountable for failing to arrest this child sex offender.
In addition to Brown, the CBS 2 Investigators also learned the horrifying details of two other assault cases.
In October 2020, the fifth grader was taken to the top floor of the Grand Motel at 10022 S. Halsted St. – room 324. In that case, a different man was involved – a 47-year-old assaulter from Chicago.
During the time of this assault concerned motel workers contacted the police. But officers failed to arrest the man and take the girl to the hospital for a rape kit.
A 22-year-old man is also reported to have taken little girl from Chicago to a home in Gary, Ind., where he is accused of repeatedly sexually assaulting her.
The child was gone for days when police finally got a tip and traced the suspect's cell phone number. He was eventually arrested – but only on misdemeanor charges.
And the misdemeanors? Harboring a runaway and contributing to the delinquency of a minor.
Lightfoot says her office is working with CPD to "review and revise policies involving the sexual abuse and human trafficking of minors."
She's demanding criminal investigations be opened into all of the girl's other accused offenders and is launching an internal investigation into how and why CPD failed this little girl. .
Advocates like Brenda Myers-Powell, who was appointed to the United States Council on Human Trafficking, says that CPD's failure to make these arrests give predators license to commit these crimes.
She says the lack of consequences tells abusers "you can sexually abuse, that you can traffic, that you can do whatever you want to Black and brown little girls and it's okay."
Lightfoot also honed in on the treatment of Black girls in her statement.
"We must also stop the adultification of Black girls – who too often are blamed when they should be treated as victims – particularly in cases of sexual abuse," she wrote in the statement.
The Illinois Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS) is also entangled in the mishandling of this case.
The department has been monitoring the little girl since she was seven, and recommended she and her family receive intact family services back in May 2020. This means services like counseling and parental training should have been provided – but the department failed to give her the resources she urgently needed.
Despite having more than a dozen reports about the fifth grader being abused and neglected, DCFS failed to implement intact services until October 2020 – five months later.
In her statement, Lightfoot called on DCFS to "prioritize a full investigation to determine if any other children that remain in the household are at risk."
Mayor Lightfoot's full statement:
"As a woman, a mother and simply as a human being, I am outraged and horrified at how many ways this child has been failed for years by those around her. This is simply unacceptable and no child in Chicago or anywhere should endure what this child has. We must all learn from this moment to make sure we do all that we can to take care of her--and to make sure this never happens again to any child on our watch.
This systemic failure is particularly disgraceful given the seemingly extensive contacts that the State's Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS), and other providers have had with this child and her family over the past 4 years. Of course, the detective involved in failing to act on a DNA hit, must be held accountable. Superintendent Brown has appropriately opened an investigation. CPD, at the prompting of the State's Attorney's Office, ultimately did act, arresting and charging an alleged offender. I have also directed the CPD to open a criminal investigation into all alleged offenders to make sure all adults responsible for any abuse or exploitation of this child are held accountable.
I urge DCFS and the Public Guardian to take further action. DCFS must immediately prioritize a full investigation to determine if any other children that remain in the household are at risk.
The Public Guardian's office needs to exercise its power to gain full and immediate access to this child to ensure that her rights are protected going forward.
My office is working with CPD to review and revise policies involving the sexual abuse and human trafficking of minors. My team has developed the City's first strategy to create a coordinated response to human trafficking, which includes training all City employees about how to identify and respond to suspected human trafficking. This also includes working with CPD to reform policies around human trafficking and to ensure that any minor who is discovered engaging in commercial sex is treated as a victim--not a criminal--and is immediately connected with vital services. We are working with community organizations and survivors to revise training and policies used in connection with these crimes to improve officers' understanding of what commercial sex and human trafficking can look like, particularly for our youth.
We must also stop the adultification of Black girls--who too often are blamed when they should be treated as victims--particularly in cases of sexual abuse.
Our protective ecosystem for children in Chicago is clearly not strong enough. Improving it will take a comprehensive, community-driven approach to preventing violence and intervening appropriately when it does. To this end, I have also convened the City's first gender-based advisory council, which brings together frontline organizations, survivors and City departments to reform and guide public and private systems to better serve and protect survivors."
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