A former Northern Illinois University cop accused of sexual assault walks out of the courtroom a free man. Andrew Rifkin's case was dismissed after the NIU Police Department failed to bring evidence forward to the DeKalb County State's Attorney's Office that could have possibly cleared Rifkin. The officer responsible for this, Lieutenant Kartik Ramakrishnan, is in the process of being discharged from the department. NIU Police Chief Donald Grady has stepped down as well. School administrators believe Grady is in breach of his contract. NIU's Public Safety Director Bill Nicklas says charges against Grady are still being finalized.
Witness statements were the pieces of evidence withheld from prosecutors. According to Rifkin's lawyer, Bruce Brandwein, an unidentified source informed Brandwein that two female NIU students went to the school's police, claiming the relations between Rifkin and the victim were consensual. During this case, Brandwein says he's had no contact with the victim herself.
Lt. Ramakrishnan says he misplaced the two students' statements, putting them in the wrong folder.
"We got lucky, and through some information that I obtained, I was able to develop who these people were. I was able to contact them and confirm that they had in fact talked to the police." -says Brandwein.
This wasn't Brandwein's only finding. Lt. Ramakrishnan and Chief Grady testified on November 9 about the withheld evidence. Brandwein's source told him that night, the two officers and an I.T. specialist were in Chief Grady's office, removing items from Grady's computer. That specialist testified Tuesday, saying he deleted about 70 items from the laptop. According to Grady, these items were of a personal nature.
"The DeKalb State's Attorney Clay Campbell was present in the courtroom and after Tuesday's hearing he indicated to the judge, based on everything that's happened in this case from the hiding of the statements and the testimony that came out Tuesday, that he had no confidence in the police department and basically he dismissed the charges." -says Brandwein.
We tried contacting Mr. Campbell's office, but have not received a call back.
After over a year of this hanging over Rifkin's head, Brandwein says Rifkin's just happy it's over.
"He's just very much relieved, Tuesday he just wanted to go home and be with his family and just get this behind him." -he says.
Brandwein says he and Rifkin are considering a civil suit against the NIU Police Department.
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