December 1, 2023

USA: The Civilian Office of Police Accountability (COPA) Found No Evidence Chicago Police Officers Engaged In Sexual Misconduct With Migrants Seeking Asylum Housed Inside Police Station.

I came across a video I saved regarding this investigation. I went to get an update on this situation and found out all 4 police officers were exonerated. So that's why I'm sharing this information with you today. But I'm curious why there was no mention of the migrant teen impregnated by one of the police officers in the COPA report. Why wouldn't they just let us know that was not true? (emphasis mine)
CBS Chicago pubilshed July 7, 2023: Migrants being moved from Chicago police station amid probe into sexual misconduct by officers. The Chicago Police Department is investigating claims officers were having sex with migrants at a police station in North Lawndale. CPD would only confirm it had opened an investigation into allegations officers were having sexual relations with migrants staying at a West Side police station, and would not provide any further details on the probe.
WGN News published July 7, 2023: 4 CPD officers under investigation for sexual relationship with migrants living at station. The Chicago Police Department is reportedly investigating four officers who allegedly engaged in sexual relations with migrants living at a West Side patrol district.
CBS Chicago published July 7, 2023: Migrants moved, CPD officers investigated for sexual misconduct. Chicago Police internal affairs and the Civilian Office of Police Accountability are investigating claims officers at the Ogden District station on the West Side had improper sexual contact with at least one of the migrants staying there. Those migrants are now being moved to another facility.

Chicago Sun Times
written by Tom Schuba
Friday September 29, 2023

An investigation into explosive claims that Chicago cops engaged in sexual misconduct with migrants has been closed without finding any wrongdoing, the city’s police oversight agency announced Friday.

The Civilian Office of Police Accountability said investigators were unable to find any victims of sexual misconduct, an issue COPA Chief Administrator Andrea Kersten initially raised during an uncharacteristic news conference weeks after the probe was opened in July.

“There is not sufficient objective, verifiable information of sexual misconduct,” COPA said in a statement.

The probe stemmed from a text message circulated by police officials and other city workers claiming several officers had improper sexual contact with migrants, including one cop from the Ogden District in North Lawndale who was identified by name and accused of impregnating a teenager.

COPA began investigating on July 6, the same day that a police spokesperson confirmed the department was investigating the claims alongside the oversight agency.

The probe was launched when an employee of the city’s Office of Emergency Management and Communication relayed the allegations to a COPA director, according to COPA’s closing report. The OEMC employee ultimately shared a screenshot of the text message.

News of the investigation set off a firestorm, with Mayor Brandon Johnson saying his administration remained “intensely focused on the deeply troubling allegations.” Kersten said her agency followed the facts and conducted a thorough investigation, all while being “under a media glare.”

“This would’ve been one of many preliminary investigations that was concluded without anyone’s awareness but for the fact that the media found out about it the same evening that we did,” she said in an interview. “So it became a public issue.”

On July 10, COPA interviewed someone connected to the officer who was named in the text message, the closing report shows. Investigators questioned whether she was “the source” of the allegations, but she denied being aware of the complaint before COPA reached out to her.

That same day, a member of the Community Commission for Public Safety and Accountability reported that a volunteer working with asylum-seekers “indicated that she was aware of an inappropriate relationship” between a female migrant and an officer assigned to the Town Hall District in Lake View, the report shows.

The volunteer noted that “pregnancy tests were needed for migrant women.”

Ultimately, though, the migrant told COPA “she had no knowledge of any teenagers or adult females being involved with any police officer or being inappropriately touched by police officers,” according to the report.

She had heard about relationships between migrants and volunteers, though.

City officials quickly rushed to relocate migrants who were living at the Ogden District, then moved others from the Town Hall District amid similar uncorroborated allegations. Last month, as the migrant housing crisis continued to strain resources, asylum-seekers were sent back to those stations.

COPA said its investigators conducted social media searches, canvassed shelters and reached out to a range of people, including new arrivals, police officers and social service providers — none of whom “had information identifying a victim or witnesses.”

John Catanzara, president of Fraternal Order of Police Lodge 7, remained critical of the investigation, which he has referred to as a “witch hunt.”

He didn’t respond to a request for comment Friday, but the FOP blamed COPA for leaking the allegations to the media without providing evidence.

“Unsubstantiated rumors spread via social media became ‘fact’ for [COPA] and our members were dragged through the mud with zero witnesses, zero complainants and absolutely zero evidence,” the union said on X, formerly Twitter.

The conflict between COPA and the FOP has been brewing for months.

On July 11, Kersten sent a letter to Catanzara claiming a “senior member” of the union had called COPA Deputy Chief Sharday Jackson a day earlier, inquiring about the status of the investigation and threatening to file a complaint against her with the Illinois Attorney Registration and Disciplinary Commission.

Kersten said Jackson “was merely seeking out potential witnesses and fact gathering,” insisting that the FOP member’s “behavior must cease immediately.”

“Such harassment and interference with a pending investigation is grossly inappropriate and is prohibited by City of Chicago rules,” she wrote.

Catanzara shot back in his own letter the following day, arguing that the FOP member didn’t threaten Jackson and merely sought to learn whether COPA was following its own rules and respecting the union’s collective bargaining agreement.

In turn, Catanzara said Kersten’s letter could be perceived as a threat that violates the union’s right to enforce its contract.

Catanzara expressed concerns that a COPA investigator had contacted an officer’s “soon-to-be former” wife “under the guise” of investigating another pending disciplinary case. During an interview, Catanzara wrote, the investigator started asking about the case involving migrants, questions that he said “had no relations to the stated purpose of the call.”

“It appears to the Lodge that if any COPA investigator can contact people at random and begin asking that person, ‘Do you think Officer X is capable of engaging in sexual misconduct towards a migrant,’ that line of questioning may be perceived as inappropriate,” Catanzara wrote.

Kersten slammed what she described as an “inappropriate attempt to interfere” in the investigation on behalf of the FOP.

“I hope they read the [closure] memo … and understand the extent to which we really meaningfully sought to try to find facts in this case and have no problem coming forward to the public and saying there aren’t any,” she said.

Weeks after the testy exchange between Kersten and Catanzara, Inspector General Deborah Witzburg was sent a letter that purportedly came from “several concerned COPA employees” raising alarms about the agency’s investigatory tactics in the case.

The July 27 letter accused Jackson and the supervising investigator, Kimberly Edstrom-Schiller, of telling staffers to document investigative steps in a document outside of the agency’s case management system “to streamline communications and ensure that only select information becomes part of the official record.”

Jackson, Edstrom-Schiller and other senior COPA officials also allegedly failed to properly memorialize “off the record conversations with witnesses” and others involved in the investigation, according to the letter. And Jackson and Edstrom-Schiller allegedly told staffers to take similar statements.

“All of these reported issues, which are likely systemic, are concerning and warrant investigation,” the letter states.

Kersten rebuffed those claims by saying she welcomes a review of the investigation.

“I think that the work speaks for itself,” she said.


CHICAGO - The city's police watchdog agency has closed its probe into allegations that Chicago police officers had engaged in sexual misconduct with migrants at two police stations, after being unable to find any evidence in more than two months of investigating.

The Civilian Office of Police Accountability said Friday that it has not been able to substantiate any claims that officers engaged in sexual misconduct with asylum seekers at the 10th (Ogden) District or 19th (Town Hall) District stations.

"To date, no victim or witness has come forward or been identified," COPA announced in a press release. "At this time, there is not sufficient objective verifiable information of sexual misconduct. COPA has concluded its investigative efforts and the case will be closed without allegations or findings of misconduct. Should new material evidence be received, COPA has the authority to re-open this investigation."

COPA has said that a city employee first claimed on July 6 that a police officer at the 10th District station had sex with a migrant girl, causing her to become pregnant. After launching an investigation with CPD's internal affairs unit, COPA also learned about similar claims at the 19th District station.

City officials quickly moved to relocate asylum seekers who had been living at the 10th District and 19th District stations after claims of sexual misconduct came to light. But as more and more migrants continued arriving in Chicago, asylum seekers were later housed at both stations again.

Less than two weeks into the probe, COPA Chief Administrator Andrea Kersten said investigators had not yet identified any migrants who have claimed to be the victim of sexual assault or any form of sexual misconduct. At the time, Kersten said she felt compelled to provide an update on the probe due to the "unprecedented amount of media attention and public scrutiny" the investigation had generated.

COPA said, during its probe, it questioned multiple officers, migrants, and others; reached out to various faith and community leaders and service providers; canvassed multiple locations such as migrant shelters; and searched social media in an effort to find victims, witnesses, or evidence, to no avail.

"Because we were unable to identify this indeed had occurred, and that there was someone stating that this occurred, we didn't ever move into a posture where an officer would be officially formally accused, or alleged to have committed this," Kersten said on Friday.

COPA said if new information surfaces, the investigation could be reopened.

Since last summer, more than 15,000 asylum seekers who have entered the U.S. at the border with Mexico have been brought to Chicago, mainly from Texas, where Gov. Greg Abbott continues to protest the Biden administration's immigration policy by sending migrants to self-proclaimed sanctuary cities.

In the last week alone, 36 buses carrying migrants have arrived in Chicago, each bringing about 40 to 50 people.

As of Friday, approximately 9,300 migrants were staying at 21 temporary shelters set up by the city, with more than 2,200 sleeping at police stations or the city's airports.

In the last 10 days alone, the city has moved more than 1,500 people from police stations to shelters. City officials hope to eventually move migrants out of police stations entirely.

Mayor Brandon Johnson recently signed a $29 million contract with a private security firm to set up so-called "base camps" of large military-style tents to help get migrants out of police stations. The city has yet to announce where or when any of the camps would be built.

FOX 32 Chicago pubilshed October 4, 2023: Video shows migrants locked out of Chicago police station. A new video shot by a FOX 32 Chicago crew Wednesday afternoon shows migrants locked out of the 1st District Chicago Police Station.
WGN News published November 28, 2023: Migrants battle cold as city looks to clear Chicago police stations. The Chicago Police Department's Harrison District remains one of the few stations where migrants are being placed as the city finds housing for them.

FOX 32 Chicago published Oct 24, 2023: 'We said no!' Tensions escalate at Chicago migrant meeting. Over protests and the local alderperson’s insistence she had nothing to do with the decision, city officials confirmed Monday evening their intention to turn a controversial site in Brighton Park into a tent shelter for migrants.
CBS Chicago published October 24, 2023: Protesters block driveway of migrant tent camp construction site. Neighbors were out blocking a construction driveway at a proposed migrant tent camp Tuesday morning, hours before a community meeting to discuss the city's plans for the site.
CBS Chicago published November 26, 2023: Protesters rally as construction set to begin on migrant tent camp in Brighton Park. Construction on a tent camp for migrants was set to begin Monday at a vacant lot in the Brighton Park neighborhood. Protesters gathered at the site at 38th and California on Sunday, staging a rally against the city's plans for a "winterized base camp" for hundreds of asylum seekers.
Transcript of a snippit from CBS Chicago news report above, "Now regardless what happens on Monday morning, the city has already signed a contract with a private company that owns the site to PAY THEM UP TO $91,000 A MONTH to lease the land." (emphasis mine)
NBC Chicago published December 1, 2023: Chicago migrants: Reactions pour in after Amundsen Park removed as migrant housing. There are plenty of reactions after Amundsen Park’s field house was removed as an option for migrant housing in Chicago. Kye Martin has the story.

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