Four years ago, police pressured 19-year-old Lara McLeod into reporting her rape; then they arrested her. With the help of never-before-released documents and recordings, BuzzFeed News explains how that decision by detectives indirectly or directly cost McLeod her friends, employment, and sense of self; bankrupted her sister Hera; and resulted in the death of her 15-month-old nephew. It started when Joaquin Rams, Hera's fiancé, allegedly showed McLeod a gun and told her he would take her to a party to get gang raped if she didn't have sex with him. After hours of resisting, she finally gave in. She told her family what happened but didn't want to go to the police. She only filed a report when police, who heard about the rape after Hera asked for a police escort to get her baby's things from Rams' house, told her she had to.
Two days later, police arrested McLeod and held her in jail for hours, BuzzFeed reports. She says police told her Rams didn't deserve what she was doing to him and they were going to teach her a lesson. She was charged with making a false report to law enforcement (charges that were later expunged in exchange for community service). Her sister Hera was charged with obstruction of justice, charges that were only dropped after Hera spent $50,000 defending herself against them. Rams—previously suspected in the deaths of his mother and an ex-girlfriend and accused of child abuse—used those charges to present himself as a victim during the custody battle over his and Hera's infant son Prince and was granted unsupervised visits. Prince died on the fourth such visit, and Rams was charged with murder. Police now say the investigation into McLeod's rape was "sloppy" due to "fatigue." Read the full story here.