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Police Family Violence Whistle Blower Found Guilty of Criminal Contempt

Robert Mullally, a former legal consultant who exposed serious family violence involving officers in the Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD), was found in criminal contempt on Friday in federal district court in Los Angeles. Mullally was joined at the courthouse by Penny Harrington, director of the National Center for Women & Policing, a division of the Feminist Majority Foundation.

"The prosecution of Robert Mullally is tragic,” said Harrington. "It is outrageous that a whistle blower—who has exposed such serious abuse committed by LAPD officers and the mishandling by the department of complaints against officers involved in domestic violence—is punished while most of the men who committed these acts of violence remain officers in good standing."

The charges against Robert Mullally stem from the release of LAPD domestic abuse complaint records obtained in conjunction with a lawsuit against The Department brought by the family of Melba Terre Ramos, whose ex-husband, an LAPD officer, shot and killed her and her then-boyfriend in August of 1992, and then killed himself. The acquired records reflected a pattern of domestic violence within the Department, and documented the LAPD’s failure to investigate, prosecute and discipline officers engaging in brutal wife-beating and family violence.

After the case was settled in 1997 against the LAPD for $1.5 million, Mullally released the files in 1997 to former KCBS-TV investigative reporter, Harvey Levin, generating a two-part expose, which criticized the LAPD for turning a blind eye to police family violence. The story resulted in a “60 Minutes” segment about the case, featuring interviews with Harrington and Feminist Majority Foundation National Coordinator Katherine Spillar. The media attention generated by the KCBS report and the persistent urging of the National Center for Women & Policing and Feminist Majority Foundation triggered an investigation by the Office of the Inspector General of the LAPD. The report exposed widespread domestic violence committed by LAPD officers and found that members of the force who battered their spouses were rarely prosecuted and often faced only light in-house discipline.

The investigation resulted in some reforms in the handling of domestic violence cases in the LAPD. However, according to the National Center for Women & Policing, accounts of domestic violence continue to be reported by spouses of acting LAPD officers. “The reforms have not been fully implemented and batterers continue to suffer few consequences,” continued Harrington. The National Center for Women & Policing called for a follow-up investigation into the LAPD's ongoing mishandling of domestic violence committed by LAPD officers and for departmental reforms in the way the LAPD disciplines officers guilty of abuse.

Mullally could face 6 months jail time; sentencing will occur March 27, 2001.

Media Resources: Feminist Majority Foundation

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