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Chief: Rape wasn’t first allegation against ex-cop

MILWAUKEE (AP) — An ex-Milwaukee police officer accused of raping a woman in July has been accused of breaking the law five times before, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reported Sunday.

Citing department records and officials, the newspaper said three of the previous allegations against Ladmarald Cates, 43, involved sexual misconduct. Two involved female prisoners, and one involved a 16-year-old girl.

Cates was suspended twice — two days for domestic violence battery and eight days for mistreating a prisoner and failing to obey a supervisor’s orders. He was not charged in either case. And he was not disciplined in the other cases, which date to 2000, three years after the department hired him, the newspaper reported.

The district attorney’s office declined to charge Cates following the July rape complaint. The Journal Sentinel reported last month that the FBI and U.S. attorney’s office had opened an investigation into the allegations.

The newspaper said Cates’ record shows how a police officer can rack up serious misconduct allegations for more than a decade before facing significant consequences. It said his history also shows that prosecutors don’t routinely consider previous complaints against officers.

Police Chief Edward Flynn, who took over in 2008, acknowledged a computerized early-intervention system designed to identify potentially troubled officers didn’t flag Cates, who was fired in December over the July incident. But Flynn told the newspaper procedures instituted under his watch should stop officers like Cates from slipping through the cracks in the future.

“It is clear to me looking at this employee’s record that from a management point of view an obvious pattern was overlooked,” Flynn said. “The department did not see the forest for the trees here.”

Cates’ attorney, Jonathan Cermele, did not return the newspaper’s telephone calls seeking comment.

Cates denied wrongdoing in all the previous instances, according to department documents.

Attorney Robin Shellow, who represents the woman who claims Cates raped her following a July 911 call, told the Journal Sentinel that both police and prosecutors failed her client.

“I am truly saddened that the Police Department and the district attorney’s office in Milwaukee County choose to protect corrupt police officers more than the most vulnerable citizens of Milwaukee,” Shellow said. “These are poor women, women of color, women who may have made mistakes, but truly victims.”

Shellow’s client claims Cates raped her and forced her to perform oral sex after he responded to her 911 call about teenagers trying to kick in the door of her home. The woman told the newspaper last month that numerous officers — on the scene and at the police station — accused her of lying when she begged for help and asked them to take her to the hospital. She spent about 12 hours in jail before being interviewed by internal affairs. Only after that was she taken to the hospital for treatment and evidence collection.

According to police records, Cates first denied any sexual activity between them, but later told internal affairs investigators they had consensual sex.

Information from: Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, http://www.jsonline.com

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