State Ombudsman Report Says Police Failed to Investigate Rape

The annual report of the State Ombudsman, State Comptroller Eliezer Goldberg, published Tuesday, reveals that a police investigator faced disciplinary action after acting with neglect during a rape investigation.

The complainant received an apology letter for the investigator's shortcomings three years after filing the complaint, but the State Prosecution had decided not to press charges against the suspects, due to lack of evidence.

Goldberg recommended that police adopt several measures to prevent contemptuous treatment of complaints it receives.

The affair began in November 2000, as a woman filed a complaint with police claiming she had been raped by two men. The complainant and a social worker contacted the investigator repeatedly as well as the district prosecution office, to find out whether the investigation was progressing.

No-one at the prosecutor's office or police was able to shed light on their request, or to even give the investigation's file number.

The investigator of the case took testimonies from the complainant and the suspects, and also referred the woman to be medically examined. The investigator said she filed the evidence in a summary file along with her recommendation to transfer the case to the state prosecution and press charges against the suspects.

The ombudsman has found that the records on the police computer confirm that the investigation file had been transferred to the prosecution, only that the file was never received there. In a search held at the prosecutor's office at the ombudsman's intervention, the file was located in the police station's archive.

Documents were missing from the file, including the medical opinion from the complainant's medical examination. A police officer assigned to investigate the file's disappearance discovered that the computer record of the file's transfer to the prosecution was entered twenty months after the transfer was reported, and that there were no document from the prosecution confirming its receipt.

In the report the State Ombudsman says that police must ensure that all computer records on the transfer of files should have a matching paper document to confirm the transfer. Also, the record must reflect correctly the status of the case. The ombudsman told police that neglecting the rape case, even though the file was ultimately found, may prevent the investigation's completion.

The prosecution had decided not to charge the suspects due to lack of evidence. It was not clear whether the loss of the investigation file affected the decision. The police investigator was the only person held accountable for the neglect in the case.