Both sides of the law


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Studied criminal justice

The woman was 19 at the time of the incident and had been living on her own, with the help of the foster care system, for four years. In addition to raising her children, ages 2 and 3, she had been given custody of her 15-year-old brother by the courts because of their mother’s drug addiction. She was studying criminal justice at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee.

The woman, now 20, has been ticketed for numerous traffic violations since 2006, according to online municipal court records. She also was ticketed for resisting and obstructing an officer in December 2009.

“I want to be someone in life, to help other people,” she said. “But now I’m kind of lost.”

During a 2½-hour interview with the Journal Sentinel, the woman provided a detailed account of what happened. On the afternoon of July 16, some teenage girls in the neighborhood were harassing her as she sat on the porch, she said. She went inside. But instead of leaving her alone, the girls started throwing bricks through the windows and trying to kick in the door, so she called 911. Cates and Hannah responded, according to police dispatch records.

Although the teens who had thrown the bricks were still outside, the officers didn’t talk to them, the woman said. Instead, she said, they seemed focused on getting everyone but her out of the house.

First, the officers urged her to call someone to pick up her children, which she did.

Hannah then handcuffed the woman’s brother, saying there was a missing persons report out on him, she said.

The woman had been in court three weeks earlier to file for guardianship of her brother, she said. She showed the officers check stubs for payments she received from the state to care for him under the kinship foster care program. She also called her social worker, who got on the phone with the officers and confirmed her brother was supposed to be living with her, she said. Hannah took her brother out to his squad car anyway.

Cates then gave her boyfriend $10 and told him to go to the store for some water, the woman said.

“I asked him did he want some water from the refrigerator,” she said. “He said, ‘Oh no, that water looks cloudy.’ ”

Her boyfriend — the father of both children — walked to the store a couple of blocks away, he confirmed.

Cates then asked the woman to follow him to the back of the house so he could see the damage, she said. She showed him broken windows in the bathroom, then reached behind the toilet to pick up a brick that had landed there. She turned around to find the officer with his pants down, she said. He demanded oral sex. Shocked and afraid, she complied. Afterward, Cates raped her, she said. He did not use a condom.

Then he let her go.

“I ran outside crying, saying, ‘He raped me. He just raped me.’ ”

Arrest follows protests

The woman’s 15-year-old brother, who by then had been uncuffed and let out of the squad car, started shouting at Cates and his partner. Hannah put him in a chokehold, the woman said.

When the woman, who weighs 105 pounds, tried to come to her brother’s defense, Cates came up behind her, she said.

“He embraced me like he knew me,” she said. “I didn’t want him touching me.”

When she struggled, Cates shoved her toward one of her friends, who was standing nearby. He told them to be quiet or they would be going to jail, the woman said. But she didn’t stop saying that he had raped her. When Cates overheard, he threw her to the ground, she said.

According to dispatch records, Cates and Hannah called for backup using the urgent code “officer needs assistance,” which signals all available officers in the area to respond.

At least 10 showed up, according to the records.

The woman said she told one of the backup officers what had happened and asked him to take her to the hospital.

“He cracked up laughing,” she said. “He said, ‘You’re not going to the hospital. You’re going to jail. Quit lying.’ ”

At the police station, she told the booking officer about the rape. He didn’t believe her either, she said.

Cates came into the holding cell while she was waiting to be questioned, she said.

“He said, ‘You better tell them you made it up.’ ... I was looking down. He said look at him in his face. He said if I tell, he and his partners will be coming to see me.”

She told Cates she would recant the accusations, but she did not. Instead, she asked to speak with a supervisor. A sergeant whose name she does not know came to talk with her.

“He said I ain’t gonna get out of jail by lying. I said, ‘I’m not lying. Could you please help me by getting me to a hospital?’ ”

Shortly after that, about 12 hours after the woman first called 911, an internal affairs detective came to talk to her. The detective, Reginald Thompson, called an ambulance, which took her to Aurora Sinai Medical Center for treatment and collection of evidence, she said.

Thompson also interviewed the woman at the hospital and seemed to believe her, she said. Nonetheless, she was taken back to jail, where she was detained two more days. She was not charged with any crime.

Cates’ statements

Flynn’s internal complaint against Cates, obtained by the Journal Sentinel, summarizes numerous statements Cates made to internal affairs investigators.

The day after the incident, Cates told Thompson he did not have sexual contact with the woman after her 911 call. However, he said the two had met about nine months before, when he pulled her over. The two exchanged phone numbers and had consensual sex in his car a couple weeks later, he said.

During a second interview with Thompson the next day, Cates changed his story. This time, he admitted he had oral sex and intercourse with the woman in the wake of the 911 call.

“Officer Cates stated he let his sexual arousal get the best of him,” the report says. “Officer Cates knew that having sex while on duty ‘wouldn’t be OK’ and stated he made a stupid decision.”

Cates also said he made up the story about having sex with the woman nine months earlier.

“Officer Cates did not know why he fabricated the story that he previously had sex with (the woman),” the report says. “Officer Cates cited being nervous, scared, shocked and tired as reasons for being untruthful,” the report says.

Online municipal court records show the woman was ticketed for running a red light and driving with a suspended license in November 2009. She told the Journal Sentinel she recalled being pulled over by Cates around that time. A friend was in the car with her, she said. Cates gave her his telephone number, but she crumpled up the paper and threw it out the window because she thought it was inappropriate for him to be hitting on her, she said. She didn’t recognize him when he responded to her July 911 call but later remembered his name, she said.

Because having sex on duty is against department rules, Flynn fired Cates for “idling and loafing” — the same count used to punish officers for sleeping on the job. Each of the two counts of “untruthfulness” also warranted dismissal from the force, according to Flynn’s complaint.

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