An attorney representing the family of a special needs woman allegedly sexually assaulted last summer filed a lawsuit against the Tulsa Police Department and the city after being denied access to information related to the incident.
Damario Solomon-Simmons, acting on behalf of the woman’s family, claimed during a news conference Thursday that state law was violated by failing to provide public records that should have been available under the Oklahoma Open Records Act.
According to the declaratory judgment lawsuit filed Thursday in Tulsa County District Court, the victim — a woman who suffers from Down syndrome — was sexually assaulted on Aug. 30 while part of a group placement program associated with Tulsa-based Bridges Foundation, a nonprofit that serves individuals with disabilities from youth through adulthood.
Nearly a full month after the incident, the woman’s mother, Jackie Ziegler, requested a copy of the police report. The Sept. 17 inquiry, however, was not granted without an explanation provided.
A Tulsa Police Department spokesman did not respond for a request for comment Thursday.
Ziegler and Solomon-Simmons said they both were also denied requests for reports on two occasions earlier this week by the Police Department and the city’s Legal Department.
“We don’t believe this is something that should happen in Tulsa,” said Solomon-Simmons. “We believe our city government should be accountable to its citizens.”
“My family and I are deeply hurt that we had to hire an attorney to speak out just to get records from the Tulsa Police Department that my daughter and I are entitled to have,” Ziegler said through tears. “I want Chief (Chuck) Jordan to know how painful it is the man who sexually assaulted my daughter has not been charged or why my daughter has not been treated with the compassion a sexual assault victim like her needs and deserves.”
Charges have not been filed in the case, according to Solomon-Simmons.
“As a result of TPD’s refusal to provide a copy of the police report, the identity of the man who sexually assaulted (the victim) is unknown,” the lawsuit states.
Solomon-Simmons said the family should have access to documents under the Oklahoma Open Records Act, and cited the Police Department’s own website that explains crime victims are entitled to a free copy of filed reports.
“These are hardworking citizens of Tulsa,” he said. “All they wanted is information about what happened to their daughter.”