OPA-LOCKA (CBS4) – Two Opa-locka Police officers appeared before a judge in a contempt of court hearing Thursday. The judge wanted to know whether officers failed to follow the court’s orders while serving a restraining order in 2010.
Shortly after the restraining order was supposed to be served, a mentally disabled child was allegedly sexually assaulted.
According to the lawyer for the woman court papers call “Jane Doe” or “Mother Doe”, police were supposed remove Victor Howard from the home he and Jane Doe shared. Instead of forcing him out immediately, court documents say the officers gave him 24 hours to leave and Jane Doe decided to leave the home instead.
Jane Doe says the officers would not allow her to take her mentally disabled son with her.
Her lawyer, Adam Horowitz said, “the court order is very clear. The court order says the officers have to stand by and cause the respondent, Victor Howard to immediately leave the premises. They chose not to do that. They chose to require the mom to leave the home and to leave her son behind.”
When the mother returned, she said Howard had sexually assaulted and abused her son. Howard was arrested for sexual battery on a child and Jane Doe filed a lawsuit against the officers.
The State Attorney’s Office investigated and determined there was not enough evidence to prosecute the officers, but now the judge who initially signed the restraining order wants to know what happened and whether the officers violated the court order.
John Rivera of the Police Benevolent Association issued a statement saying, “The officers did not violate the court’s civil order. This is a pending contempt case on a civil matter. It needs to be clear that criminal charges were not filed by the State Attorney’s Office, after their criminal investigation.”
“These are good officers who may have made a mistake and that is what the court will decide,” said Assistant Opa-locka Police Chief Antonio Sanchez told CBS4’s Maggie Newland.
Sanchez says neither officer involved has been in trouble before and the police department will conduct an internal investigation once the court proceedings are resolved. But he says his department is getting additional training in handling domestic violence cases
“Training is always good and we will continue to provide more training,” he said.
Both officers are on paid administrative leave.