What Arpaio Didn’t Do This Time: Over 400 Sex Crimes Ignored

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 Arizona’s notorious Sheriff Joe Arpaio has another scandal to add to his reputation—but this time it’s what the self-proclaimed “toughest Sheriff in America” didn’t do, particularly for the children of undocumented families that he so often maligns.

Over a three-year period ending in 2007, Arpaio’s office failed to properly investigate over 400 reported sex crimes in Maricopa County, including many instances of child molestation. Many cases were not even worked at all after the initial reports were taken.

In the city El Mirage, for example, there were at least 32 reported child molestation cases that were neglected. A majority of the victims were children of undocumented immigrants, with some as young as two years old. Despite the fact that there were suspects in all but six of the cases, Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office (MCSO) did not advance the investigations.

“Inaction speaks as loudly as action. To not pursue the full steps that are necessary is unacceptable,” said Juanita Molina, the Executive Director of Border Action Network, an immigration advocacy group based in Arizona. “It reinforces once again that law enforcement is not taking care of this community.”

Arpaio’s known for his egregiously cruel treatment of inmates, anti-immigrant policies, and sensationalist brand of justice. He is famous for forcing prisoners to wear pink underwear and outdated prison stripes, feeding them rotten food, and holding them in outdoor tent cities in extreme desert heat.

The Department of Justice filed a lawsuit against him for refusing to cooperate with their investigation into human rights violations in his jails. His zealous immigration sweeps are unmatched: in 2007 Arpaio’s department was singlehandedly responsible for a quarter of the 115,841 deportations that resulted from 287(g), a Homeland Security program that made it okay for local law enforcement to detain immigrants without criminal charge. Those roundups of immigrants led the nation, with Los Angeles County coming in a distant second at fewer than half Arpaio’s number.

Yet despite his crusade to chase down immigrants, Arpaio apparently dropped the ball on keeping people in his county, documented and undocumented, safe from sexual offenders. Read more here.