PRESS RELEASES - 2002

Rape Activists Call for New Charges in Louima Case

March 12, 2002

Los Angeles - Stop Prisoner Rape (PR), a national human rights organization dedicated to ending sexual violence against men, women, and youth in all forms of detention, is speaking out about a federal court decision to overturn the conviction of three officers involved in obstructing the Abner Louima police brutality investigation.

A federal appeals court has decided to overturn the convictions of Charles Schwartz, Thomas Bruder, and Thomas Weise for conspiring to obstruct a grand jury investigation. The judges stated that there was enough evidence to prove the defendants conspired to mislead investigators, but the prosecution failed to prove that the officers specifically knew they were obstructing a grand jury.

In fact, the ruling stated, "There is little need to recite in further detail all of the evidence that would have supported a finding that the appellants agreed to mislead both state and federal investigators. If this had been the object of the conspiracy charged, we have no doubt the verdict would have been upheld."

Despite this, the U.S. attorney’s office in Brooklyn remains undecided about whether or not to drop the case or bring new, more appropriate charges against the officers.

While new charges are rarely brought under these circumstances, last Thursday, The New York Times called on the Brooklyn DA’s office to prosecute the officers on more appropriate charges. Stop Prisoner Rape joins The Times in a call for action.

"Prosecuting the officers involved in covering up this crime is extremely important, because the code of silence to which officers adhere is a powerful force that allows these serious, sometimes life-threatening, human rights violations to continue," explained Lara Stemple, Executive Director of Stop Prisoner Rape.

"Sexual violence is often used to degrade and humiliate victims, sometimes shaming them into silence. Breaking down the walls of silence surrounding this crime is essential to combating the problem," said Stemple. "That includes prosecuting those who seek to protect their own by covering it up with deception."