TN detective investigating rape admits he didn’t gather evidence
NEW JOHNSONVILLE, Tenn. — Court testimony reveals a detective assigned to investigate a report of a brutal rape did not gather DNA evidence, physical evidence or seek out a piece of video because he doubted the validity of the woman’s account.
A Channel 4 I-Team investigation also found that this isn’t the first time Captain Clay Anderson has been criticized for how he handled evidence in a criminal investigation.
In early September 2012, Jackie Little went to investigators with the Humphreys County Sheriff’s Office to report that she had been raped by three men.
In recorded video of her interview, Sheriff Chris Davis can be heard vowing to investigate while sitting in a room with the detective assigned to the case, Clay Anderson.
“If they’ve done this to you, we’re going prosecute them. We’re going to prosecute them wide open,” Davis said.
But our investigation found Anderson never even attempted to gather DNA evidence, didn’t seek out one piece of potential video and interviewed the three suspects several months after the rape was reported.
“It’s not just about the rape. It’s about what’s wrong in that county,” Little said.
Little told police that she voluntarily got into a SUV with three men that night in September, because she knew two of them.
Little said she rode around with them and was offered alcohol.
“He (one of the men) kept saying, ‘You need to drink faster. You need to drink faster,'” Little said. “I do feel like I was drugged, I don’t have any proof.”
Little told police that while driving around, she remembered telling one of the men not to touch her.
“He kept reaching over to touch my breast and I pushed him away and said, ‘That’s not why I’m here,'” Little said.
Little said her memories of what happened next are hazy, but she remembers being carried from the truck back into a bedroom in a house on Woodlawn Drive in New Johnsonville.
“There were multiple assaults done in the house, by all three of them,” Little said.
In the interview, Little detailed how an object, possibly a beer bottle, was used in the alleged assault.
“When they tried to do that, it hurt incredibly bad and I screamed,” she said.
Little said she told Anderson of locations where surveillance video might show her in the vehicle and where to find other potential evidence.
But when the trial began for the first two men, Anderson said he looked for one piece of video that he found didn’t exist, but admitted he didn’t gather any DNA evidence, any physical evidence or look for another piece of video that Little brought to this attention.
“None of that was ever collected. No evidence from a vehicle. No evidence from the house,” Little said.
Assistant District Attorney Joey Hornick questioned Anderson on the stand. The I-Team obtained copies of the transcript.
“So, she told you she was raped by three men anally, vaginally, orally, and you all decided not to move forward?” Hornick said.
“We didn’t feel like the elements of a crime were there,” Anderson said.
“How do you know whether you didn’t have a prosecutable case or not if we didn’t go get the DNA evidence?” Hornick asked.
“From what she was telling us, she never told them to stop,” Anderson testified.
But in the video from when Little was questioned by police, how she responded is different.
“Did you tell them to stop at any time during any of this?” Anderson can be heard asking Little in the video.
“I can remember bits and pieces. Telling Chad, don’t do that, that’s not what I was here for,” Little said in the video. “I (unclear), I don’t know.”
During the trial, Anderson said on the stand, “Based on the statements that she told us, we just didn’t feel like there was anything there.”
Both men in the first trial were found not guilty.
“I think Clay Anderson should be held accountable for how he handled the case,” Little said.
And the I-Team found this isn’t the first case where Anderson was criticized for how he handled evidence.
Anderson was recommended for termination from the Dresden Police Department in 2006 for failing to turn over recorded statements to the U.S. Attorney’s office in a drug case and for providing a false statement in a department hearing.
Anderson was then recommended for termination from Metro police in 2009 for failing to disclose why he left the Dresden Police Department.
“It makes me angry to hear that. But then it fits my situation perfectly,” Little said.
Anderson appealed his termination from Metro police and was allowed to resign in good standing.
Because another trial is pending for the third man charged in the rape case, Sheriff Chris David said Anderson would not be able to respond to our questions. But Davis did send a statement reading:
“There is a pending case set for trial in this matter, therefore I cannot comment on the details of the investigation. However there is a lot more to this case than what’s on the surface. We have a duty to investigate a crime and what all it involves. We also have a duty to protect the rights of people against being falsely accused of things they are not guilty of. This is not a case of a smoking gun or who done it. This is a case that was investigated by our agency as well as the District Attorney’s Office. This is actually more of a case of a victim not communicating with us as well as the prosecutors and a constant changing of stories. As far Capt. Anderson, he’s a good officer that has been decorated with awards in his past with other agencies. He has even served as the Former Chief of Police for Lakewood Police Dept after leaving Metro. Matter of fact he was hired by this agency while working a position with the federal government. Nonetheless, we are going to keep working hard for our community and doing the very best we can for victims of any crime.”
Little said she expected a fight in court, but not to fight with her investigators.
“In order to keep surviving this, people need to know that you can get past it and that you’re going to have to fight. Not only the good guys, but the bad guys too,” Little said.
District Attorney Ray Crouch said he also could not comment on how the detective handled the case because of the upcoming trial, but emailed and said, “The transcript speaks for itself.”
The I-Team went to experts at the Sexual Assault Center in Nashville to inquire whether detectives should still gather evidence even if they doubt the validity of a rape report.
“Whatever profession you’re coming in contact with a survivor, the advocate, the therapist, the prosecutor, law enforcement, our role is to believe the survivor and to do our jobs. If our job is to investigate crimes, we investigate crimes,” said Jessica Labenberg, advocacy services coordinator with the Sexual Assault Center
If you need help reporting a rape, you can call the crisis and support line at the Sexual Assault Center at 1-800-879-1999.