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The attorneys for Dinizulu Law Group on Tuesday filed litigation on behalf of the victim in a 1997 molestation investigation in which the 11-year-old girl’s attacker went free, because Harvey, Illinois, police failed to submit the rape kit to the state crime lab for testing.
As a result, the accused, Robert Buchanan, who was working as a Cook County corrections officer at the time, returned to the family home and continued the abuse. He was subsequently charged in the attack last fall after the rape kit – discovered with some 200 untested rape kits at the Harvey police station during a raid by law-enforcement in 2007 – provided overwhelmingly evidence of his guilt.
The victim, now 25, is seeking unspecified damages in a seven-count lawsuit that names Buchanan and the City of Harvey. Specifically, the complaint accuses Harvey officials of failing to protect her rights under the Illinois Domestic Violence Act of 1986; infliction of emotional distress; willful and wanton neglect; and fraudulent concealment.
After telling her mother of the abuse, the victim was examined that same day at a local hospital. Doctors followed protocol, collecting DNA samples for the Illinois State Police Sexual Assault Evidence Kit and handing it off to Harvey police. The victim was notified by an investigator for the Cook County state’s attorney’s office last spring that the kit was never tested.
“After being failed at home, this young woman should have been able to trust that local police would follow through with their most basic levels of investigation,” said her attorney, Yao Dinizulu. “The abuse could have ended there had police done their jobs. There is a pattern of gross negligence in the City of Harvey that has led to the suffering of countless other victims. We’re asking a jury to send a strong message that such egregious malfeasance won’t be tolerated.”
The victim is identified in court documents as “Jane Doe” to shield her identity. She has been diagnosed with suppressed memories and is currently receiving therapy, Dinizulu said.