In the first season of Dig, a new podcast from the Kentucky Center for Investigative Reporting, we bring you the results of a yearlong look at how rape cases are investigated in Louisville. What we’ve learned: here, the police defer to prosecutors on rape cases -- and prosecutors reject the vast majority of cases presented to them. Due to this unusual relationship, most people accused of rape here will never face consequences. Most won’t be arrested or convicted. And the case will be closed anyway. Donate to support this and future seasons of Dig.
Jen Sainato had been waiting for this day for a long time. She’d woken up early, put on her black striped suit, and drove five hours to attend the Louisville Metro Council’s public safety committee meeting. The council had called the police to answer questions about their handling of rape cases, in the wake of our story about Jen’s case.
When Jen walked into the council chamber, the police were already settled in at the front of the room: two press people, a few men in suits, and Lt. Shannon Lauder — the head of the special victims unit, who’d been called by the council to explain why her department clears so few rape cases by arrest, and so many “by exception.”
The eight metro council members in attendance were seated as well, looking out at the room from their elevated seats.
And in the audience sat the survivors — women who had reported a rape to the Louisville Metro Police Department. Women who were inspired by Jen’s story to come out and seek their own answers.
For most of them, this hearing was as close as they would get to their day in court.
Visit kydig.org and donate to support this and future seasons of Dig.
Update: Prosecution... Declined?
It’s been two months since we released the first season of Dig. And a lot has changed: city leaders are calling the police department to account, and there have been some changes in Jen Sainato’s rape case that we did not see coming. Visit kydig.org and donate to support this and future seasons of Dig.
Cleared By Exception
Episode 4: In the final episode of this investigation, we learn more about Jen Sainato’s rape case - why it was closed, and how much evidence the police really had against the man she says raped her. (Note: This episode includes description of a rape and injuries sustained from a rape.) Donate to support this and future seasons of Dig.
Harder to Prove
Episode 3: Louisville officials say rape cases are hard to prosecute. They are not wrong. But we talked with police, prosecutors and experts from around the country who told us it’s not impossible — you just have to be willing to lose a few trials.
(Note: This episode includes a series of brief descriptions of sexual violence from courtroom recordings throughout the 14th and 15th minutes, and again in the 17th and 18th minutes.) Donate to support this and future seasons of Dig.
The Wizard of Oz
Episode 2: Jen Sainato reported a rape to Louisville police in January 2018. In this episode, we hear about her attempts over the next two years to follow up on her case. And we ask LMPD why cases like Jen’s seem to be taken to the prosecutor’s office so early - sometimes before suspects have even been interviewed. (Note: This episode includes brief descriptions of multiple rape reports.) Donate to support this and future seasons of Dig.
Episode 1: Jen Sainato reported a rape to Louisville police in January 2018. She didn’t feel like they believed her. Jen’s case puts a spotlight on police response to rapes, the prosecutors’ unusual role in rape cases here in Louisville, and how it feels to the people who report. (Note: There are descriptions of a rape, and audio from a police body camera on the scene of a rape investigation, throughout this episode.) Donate to support this and future seasons of Dig.
Very professional investigation, heartbreaking cases and absolute disgust at how these cases are still being treated by the judicial system. “We are here for you and we believe you” highly recommended podcast!