Florence Cops Failed a Victim of Alleged Rape While Ohio Pursues Justice in Similar Case
Illustrations by Brian Stauffer Florence Exposed: Our three-part series on law enforcement, or the lack thereof, in the Pinal County prison town.
Imagine the horrific scenario.
Members of a football team in a small community are involved in the alleged rape of a 16-year-old high school girl at an alcohol-drenched party.
The intoxicated victim can't remember anything, but her attack is captured on video by other students with cell phones.
Adults involved in the aftermath are accused of obstructing justice and tampering with evidence.
This is the story line playing out in Steubenville, Ohio. And it's eerily similar to a 2007 case in Florence, Arizona.
The Arizona case also involves a 16-year-old girl, underage drinking, sex, and cell-phone video of the incident. And at least one adult hampers the investigation of the alleged rape.
There is, however, one significant exception.
In Steubenville, the players seen on video attacking the girl were charged, convicted, and sentenced for their role in the rape. And just last week, the adults who are accused of obstructing justice in the case were charged by a grand jury.
This wasn't the case for the 16-year-old cheerleader in Florence.
Her attacker or attackers were given a pass -- never arrested or charged. Her case never saw the inside of a courtroom. And the adults who failed this young woman also remain unscathed.
Florence Police Lieutenant Terry Tryon, whose son was also on the football team at the time of the attack and helped transport the victim to the town police station, injected himself into the emotionally charged case. Officer Tryon ordered the cell phones with the evidence of the incident returned to their owners before the lead detective could secure a search warrant.
The Florence case fell apart.
A stark contrast to what's happening in Steubenville.
The Ohio Attorney General convened a grand jury to hold accountable the adults who he believes lied or failed to report the incident to authorities, according to a story by the Associated Press.
The news organization reports the school's superintendent, two coaches, and an elementary school principal have been accused of "lying or failing to report possible child abuse" by a grand jury.
Read about how Florence police handled the alleged rape in Florence Exposed, a New Times' three-part investigative series that exposes how the FPD's culture of political favoritism undermined serious criminal investigations and compromised public safety.