Report: “Fraternity-like" force mishandled campus cop's allegation she was sexually assaulted

WFSB

NEW BRITAIN, Conn. -- A four-month outside investigation into the way a Connecticut university handled a female campus police officer's allegations of sexual assault by a male officer has found multiple issues within the department. The results of the independent investigation, conducted by a law firm, were released Friday by Zulma Toro, president of Central Connecticut State University.

The report found the police chief knew about the 2016 allegation but didn't pursue an investigation after discussing the issue with the school's chief administrative officer, Richard Bachoo, who oversees the department. He was placed on leave. Former State Police Commissioner and Hartford Police Chief Bernard Sullivan has since been brought in to oversee the campus department and identify ways to improve, the station reports.

According to the law firm's report, obtained by CBS Hartford affiliate WFSB, the female officer told her lieutenant in November 2016 that she had been sexually assaulted by another member of the department. The lieutenant sent Chief Gregory Sneed a memo detailing the allegations on Dec. 5, when Sneed returned from vacation. Sneed and Bachoo spoke and decided "not to conduct any internal or other investigation due to lack of information," citing a lack of cooperation from the complainant, despite never contacting her, the report said. 

They would both also later deny knowing about the allegation, the station reports, despite the memo detailing it.

"It is inexplicable that a law enforcement agency like the CCSU Police Department would not have conducted at least some investigation into such a serious allegation," the report said.

About a year later, a complaint about the alleged assault was filed with the university's office of diversity and equity, according to the Hartford Courant. After that complaint was filed, Sneed also contacted Bachoo and consulted with the state's attorney and the state police regarding a possible criminal investigation, the paper reports. He also for the first time reportedly reached out to the officer who said she was assaulted.

The report found that the delay likely hindered the ensuing investigation in 2017.

The law firm's investigation also found officers were hired despite a record of serious disciplinary action or disqualifying performance issues; the department has a "fraternity" type atmosphere; and required sexual harassment training wasn't taken seriously. The report also described a "pervasive use of gender labels for women" at the department and the perception that women were subjected to harsher criticism.

Toro says she is "deeply disturbed and saddened" by the findings and is taking corrective action.

"There is significant evidence that a sexual assault complaint by one of the department's own officers was inappropriately handled when the incident was first reported in 2016," Toro said in a letter to the CCSU community. "I am particularly troubled as to how the department's chain of command did not, in a timely manner, conduct an investigation when the sexual assault was first reported."