By Chuck Strouse
By Scott Fishman
By Terrence McCoy
By Ryan Yousefi
By Ciara LaVelle, Kat Bein, Carolina Del Busto, and Liz Tracy
By Pepe Billete
By Ryan Yousefi
By Kyle Swenson
Although investigators say they believe the victim, the Miami-Dade State Attorney's Office has decided not to file criminal charges against North Miami Police Det. Fred St. Amand for allegedly exposing himself and masturbating, on three separate occasions, in front of a female co-worker. The State Attorney's investigation, which was released last week, confirmed information previously reported in this column, including the fact that prosecutors retrieved a semen-stained carpet sample from the room inside the police station where the incidents took place. Prosecutors were unable to determine if the semen came from St. Amand because the detective refused to provide a blood or saliva sample for DNA comparison.
With no DNA match and no independent witnesses to the encounters, prosecutors argued, proving a case before a judge or jury would have been extremely difficult. That inability to proceed with criminal charges, however, did not stop the State Attorney's Office from sharply criticizing St. Amand, labeling him a threat to the safety of women around him.
In addition to the testimony of the victim, who works as a code enforcement officer with the City of North Miami, investigators considered statements from four other women who claim they were sexually harassed by St. Amand. According to a memorandum closing the investigation, one of the women told prosecutors that St. Amand would walk around the office grabbing his crotch and commenting that "he had a big, black dick" and announcing to anyone within earshot: "You want it, suck it."
"The testimony of the four females, combined with the [original victim's] testimony, indicates that [St. Amand] has a serious problem and should not be working alone with female [crime] victims and co-workers," Assistant State Attorney Ruth Solley wrote in the close-out memo. "Two of the women have indicated that they are afraid of him."
Although the State Attorney's Office did not call on the City of North Miami to terminate St. Amand, Solley's recommendations in the close-out memo, endorsed by her superiors, left little doubt that prosecutors believe he should not continue to work as a police officer. After all, how can he perform his duties as a police officer if he can't be trusted to be alone with women?
"All five women were unrelated to each other and gave independent descriptions of inappropriate sexual conduct," wrote Solley. "Although there is insufficient evidence to charge the misdemeanor [exposure of sexual organs], action should be taken administratively to ensure the safety of any females who come into contact with the subject in connection with his duties."
Allow me to interpret and extrapolate: The guy is such a threat to women's safety he should be fired.
The 28-year-old St. Amand, once considered a hero cop who had been named Officer of the Year by his department this past January, is now on administrative leave with pay. Before being placed on leave, he'd been assigned to a squad that investigates domestic-violence complaints and sexual assaults. (Neither St. Amand nor his attorney returned phone calls seeking their comments for this story.)
A second criminal investigation against St. Amand is now under way. The State Attorney's Office is scrutinizing allegations of official misconduct and filing false police reports in connection with at least four domestic-violence complaints he investigated. According to documents obtained by New Times, in those four cases St. Amand never contacted the victims, and in three of the cases he closed his investigation into their complaints by filing a report stating that the victims had been instructed about how to obtain a restraining order or seek counseling. The impression left by St. Amand in these "supplemental" reports was that he had personally contacted the victims, as he was supposed to do. In fact in each of these cases he did no such thing.
These allegations against St. Amand first surfaced in May 1998, when a supervisor in the domestic-violence unit conducted a survey of victims to gauge the rate of recurring violence and to see if the battered women were satisfied with the detectives who investigated their cases. On May 26, 1998, the supervisor, Sgt. Joseph LaPorte, in a memo to the unit's commander, Nancy McCue, revealed the results of his survey. He noted that there were no complaints regarding cases assigned to other members of the domestic-violence unit, but that in some of the cases assigned to St. Amand, the victims were still waiting to be contacted.
In one instance, a 31-year-old woman called police on April 7, 1998, after her former boyfriend allegedly assaulted her. The woman told officers she arrived home to find her ex-boyfriend outside her house. She had two of her children with her, boys ages three and five. After she stepped out of her car, the former boyfriend began yelling at her. "He came up to her, snatched her purse from her, and struck her on the back of her head with his fist," the initial police report states. "Fearing he would beat her, she pleaded with him to calm down and come inside." The woman said she left her children in the car while she went in the house with him. "He came through the front door with her and began beating and slapping her, ripping off her shirt and throwing her to the floor," the report continues. "He then splashed beer in her face from a bottle he was holding. Then he threw the bottle at her face, missing by inches. It hit the wall and shattered."