U.S. to investigate witness rape charge: Chief homicide investigator raped a witness he was assigned to protect (The Times-Picayune)
Sunday July 9th, 2006
The U.S. Attorney's Office has issued grand jury subpoenas as part of a federal civil rights investigation into a complaint that Orleans Parish District Attorney Eddie Jordan's chief homicide investigator raped a witness he was assigned to protect.
Federal agents started the investigation last week after meeting with high-ranking New Orleans Police Department officials and Jordan, U.S. Attorney Jim Letten said Friday.
An unidentified woman in the state witness protection program told the NOPD's Public Integrity Bureau that Dwight Deal, a veteran homicide detective who joined Jordan's administration in June 2003 as the chief investigator for murder cases, raped her while she was under his watch.
Deal, 50, worked for more than 20 years with NOPD and at one time was among the most senior of homicide detectives, known for cracking murder cases and making them stick in court to win convictions. Deal played a key role in helping police solve and bring to court the culprits behind the 1997 triple murder at the French Quarter's Louisiana Pizza Kitchen, a case that sent Phillip Anthony to death row.
In June 2003, Deal retired from the NOPD and joined Jordan's staff. Deal was placed on paid administrative June 30, a move that adheres to the office policy, said Jordan spokeswoman Leatrice Dupre.
Jordan declined to discuss Deal, citing privacy laws that hinder employers from discussing work records.
A message left on Deal's work-issued cell phone was not returned immediately Friday.
In his announcement of the federal probe Friday, Letten made reference to the recent conviction of Henry A. Dillon III, the former New Orleans assistant city attorney convicted on federal civil rights charges for raping two young women who crossed paths with him while dealing with traffic tickets in 2004.
Dillon is "a serial rapist who abused his position as a public official in exploiting and brutalizing young women," Letten said in a statement. "In (the Deal) case, our federal civil rights investigation, consistent with federal law and policy, will be fair and even-handed, but also swift and decisive."
At trial, Dillon, 48, a politically connected lawyer with longtime ties to former Mayor Marc Morial, said that he had sex with three of the four women who testified but said they pursued him. The jury called it rape, and federal prosecutors lauded the verdict as a message to public officials.
Dillon is due in court Sept. 21 for sentencing before U.S. District Court Judge Lance Africk.
Letten would not give an exact date of when the Deal investigation started, but said it began after his office met with NOPD brass.
The witness who made the complaint was immediately relocated under the federal protection program, where she remains in a secret location, Letten said.
Letten said he told Jordan that his office would start a federal civil rights investigation into the matter.
"I welcomed his intervention in this matter and further noted that my office would be fully cooperative with his investigation," Jordan said in a statement Friday.
Special Agent in Charge James Bernazzani of the FBI said that anyone with information about this or any other civil rights matter can call the FBI at (504) 816-3000.
The case is being investigated by the FBI and the NOPD Public Integrity Bureau. Assistant U.S. attorneys assigned to the case include Mark Miller, supervisor of the Organized Crime and Racketeering Strike Force Unit, and veteran prosecutor Mike McMahon.