Can you help me make a difference so this is never handled the same way again?

If anyone is willing to share your feedback or suggestions with the two Cook County elected officials (Sheriff Mark Falk and Prosecutor Tim Scannell), I would appreciate it. Their emails listed from their websites are below:

I was shocked and dismayed by the way the Cook County elected officials, the Sheriff and Prosecutor, followed up with and handled my case and the lack of priority and attention given to me as the victim and the crime. In my experience with how this reported crime was handled, I felt a lack of compassion and empathy, a lack of professionalism, a lack of expeditious follow up, a demonstrated unwillingness to get to the truth by allowing the suspects to be re-interviewed following what appears to be obviously insufficient BCA interviews, and the refusal to take a tough stance on the crime given the brutality involved.

As elected officials, excerpts from their websites are below:

Cook County Sheriffs Department Mission Statement:

– The fundamental duty of the Cook County Sheriff’s Office is to “protect and serve” with fairness and respect.

– We demand excellence in the quality of our law enforcement, stressing professionalism, integrity, and timeliness, so that those we serve may feel secure. Provide equal enforcement and protection of the law without prejudice and favor.

– We promote the setting of goals in partnership with the community, and prioritize and address problems based on the concerns of the community.

The mission of the Cook County Attorney’s Office is to:

Serve the people of Cook County; Protect and provide for the public safety by the vigorous and just prosecution of adult and juvenile violations of the law; Provide support and assistance to victims and witnesses of crimes.

Prosecutor Scannell’s stance in communicating with my Mom she felt was quite mean. Several times he lost his temper with her and it appears that how this victim’s family was communicated with was far harsher than the rapists (from what is documented in my Mom’s detailed notes and the case file review). In the end, when the case was transferred to Amy Sweazy in Hennepin County, she told my Mom she was serving as Assistant Prosecutor for Cook County, so ultimately it appears to me that Scannell made the final decision to dismiss. I wonder if this case would have been handled differently if the family were local to the area and one of his voters?

Below are some other questions I still have for Sheriff Falk and Prosecutor Scannell that remain unanswered:

• Did you feel the BCA interviews were sufficient and timely in establishing a basis to dismiss the case?

• What did you specifically do to expedite the process to ensure a timely and vigorous prosecution?

• The crime occurred on June 18, 2011, yet the suspects were not interviewed until October 6, October 20 and October 26. Is this an example of the priority the Cook County Sheriff and Prosecutor give to vicious gang rapes that occur during the height of tourist season?

• Do you feel the spacing of the interviews and handling of the suspects fulfills your requirement for the safety and protection to the BWCA community?

• Did it appear that the suspects had more credibility than the victim?

• Was merit put into the diligent investigation and efforts made by the Deputy?

• Why was the FBI not allowed to re-interview the suspects since that the agency offered to do so in cooperation with the Deputy?

• As elected officials, you pledge to protect victims and to provide a timely, vigorous prosecution of criminals while supporting the victims and their families. How do you rate yourself against your stated goals?

• Are you going to make sure the suspects are not allowed back into the BWCA this year?

• Can you point to one specific thing that led you to believe you should not prosecute this case?

• I understand that not once did the prosecutor or the sheriff actually call the victim.  Not even once did you meet her, clarify a fact, or personally ask to hear her story. Why is that?

• Did the fact that this happened in the BWCA, a major tourist area and the economic life blood of your community, play a role in the decision not to prosecute?

• Have you ever had any reports like this happening before? If yes, did you prosecute them? If not, are you saying this is an isolated incident?

• What is being done to make sure the BWCA, often marketed to families, women, and church groups, is safe and protected?

• Are you planning to have your department or other agencies do more patrolling of those areas during the overnight hours?

• Do you feel you adequately safeguard the public given that those with felony convictions, firearms, drugs and alcohol are entering the BWCA?

• Do you believe victims and their families deserve to be informed of the disposition of crimes in a professional and timely manner? If so, how do you account for the manner in which this victim was informed of the dismissal?

• If this or any other victim can’t count on you both to fully investigate the cases and fully prosecute any crimes, who can they count on?

The other two suggestions I have are the following:

  • Reach out to the Cook County Commissioners office. The phone listed for them is 218-387-3602. It’s probably best to get an address or email and document any concerns or suggestions rather than merely call.
  • Write a letter to the editor of their weekly newspaper to engage the Cook County voters.

Does anyone have any other suggestions of actions that can be taken to ensure this does not happen again and that safety in the BWCA is improved?

– Julia


Can you help me make a difference so this is never handled the same way again? — 2 Comments

  1. I am just compelled that if ALL of us ban together and keep bugging officials there is some justice for Julia! No her life will never be the same, but how can these beasts we call men just walk away from this with no action what so ever? I live in rural Minnesota and when our beet trucks are over weight we get tremendous fines. I got stopped for speeding a couple months ago I paid a fine. If someone got caught hunting out of season in the Boundary Waters you bet the would get fines. Nothing happens to these people who did this to Julia? This is not justice!

  2. I was refered to your blog about a week ago when the story broke and have spent the week reading and following shared perspectives. After today’s post, I wanted to share my two cents worth. Julia, your strength and perserverence are above most and I commend you and all the others as you seek answers. I was thinking of a few other resources for your posters and followers to contact.

    Office of the Governor (Mark Dayton)
    130 State Capitol
    75 Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd.
    St. Paul, MN 55155
    Telephone: 651-201-3400
    Toll Free: 800-657-3717

    Minnesota Attorney General’s Office (Lori Swanson)
    1400 Bremer Tower
    445 Minnesota Street
    St. Paul, MN 55101
    (651) 296-3353
    (800) 657-3787

    Minnesota FBI (Minneapolis)
    1501 Freeway Boulevard
    Brooklyn Center, MN 55430
    Phone: (763) 569-8000

    This kind of tragedy should have never happened. Thank you Julia for your courage! Everyone reading this – we can make change happen! From what I gather, Julia isn’t seeking justice for herself. She is just pointing out a vulnerability that needs to be fixed. Don’t we owe it to others to encourage safety measures in the Boundrary Waters? Please write to these offices and share your concerns! I will be.

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