Prosecutor: No plea deal for officer under investigation for allegedly shelving rape DNA test results

Hamilton County Prosecutor Joe Deters
Hamilton County Prosecutor Joe Deters
Published: Oct. 14, 2021 at 3:00 PM EDT|Updated: Oct. 14, 2021 at 3:09 PM EDT

CINCINNATI (WXIX) - There is no plea deal for a veteran Cincinnati police officer who allegedly shelved rape DNA test results for years, according to the Hamilton County Prosecutor’s Office.

“During the investigation, there were discussions at the staff level regarding a possible resolution. Any resolution would be required to be approved by Mr. Deters. That resolution has not - and will not - be approved by Mr. Deters,” wrote Amy Clausing, Public Information Officer for the Hamilton County Prosecutor’s Office.

Despite what the prosecutor’s office says, the officer’s attorney, Mike Allen, says Deters is lying. “I fully intend to do what I have to do to enforce that plea deal. If I have to put people under oath, I will put them under oath,” Allen said.

This comes one day after FOX19 NOW broke the story that veteran Officer Christopher Schroder is under investigation for “doing nothing” Deters said. “He literally had active cases where he wasn’t doing his job.”

“We are working closely with our partners in the Cincinnati Police Department to determine the extent to which these allegations have affected investigations,” Deters said Wednesday.

“Our highest priorities are our victims of crime. We are seeking to rectify any issues stemming from this behavior and deliver justice, and we will continue to work with the Cincinnati Police Department to ensure that takes place. I can’t fathom what would cause a police officer to do this. But, we will do everything in our power to make sure he is never again a police officer.”

Hamilton County Coroner Lakshmi Sammarco says Schroder’s name appears in 96 entries in the coroner’s office database, meaning he was somehow involved in at least the initial stages of rape investigations that yielded 96 DNA tests. some of those cases involved male victims, according to Sammarco.

Of those 96 tests, the crime lab netted four “CODIS hits,” and those results were given to Schroder. The victims’ ages ranged from 15-31, Sammarco said.

CODIS stands for Combined DNA Index System. It links unknown DNA left during a crime to offenders who are legally required to provide samples for the database, according to the FBI.

Sammarco explains a CODIS hit doesn’t necessarily turn up a suspect. The crime lab might find DNA in one test that matches DNA from a previous test in an unsolved case, and that result would also be forwarded to law enforcement.

She could not say whether those four results were given to other officers or only to him. Nor could she comment on the status of the cases.

Schroder, 52, was assigned to the Personal Crimes Unit in CPD’s Criminal Investigation Section from July 2007 until he was transferred in July to District 1. His file does not indicate why he was moved or specifically what he was assigned to do at District 1, but his attorney says he was moved over these allegations.

Deters says there potentially could be rapists out there that have never been contacted and rape victims whose rapists are still free and that’s CPD is actively attempting to resolve right now.”

Allen told FOX19 NOW Wednesday this only involves three cases and a plea deal already has been reached with prosecutors.

“This is not the crime of the century,” he said.

As part of the plea deal, Officer Schroder will resign from the police department.

“He is going to plead guilty to a misdemeanor of the second-degree dereliction of duty. I’ve got the paperwork. We’ve already talked to the judge. I believe it will take place sometime next week,” Allen said Wednesday.

He also said, “It’s going to go through because a plea deal is a contract, and I’m not going to tolerate the contract being reneged on.”

He threatened legal action if it was.

Allen describes the deal as a binding “contract” and said Anderson’s receipt of the signed deal constitutes the execution of the “contract.”

If the prosecutor’s office does not follow through on the terms of the deal, Allen said he will interpret that as a breach of contract and pursue legal action.

Cincinnati police said in a statement Wednesday night the issue came to light when police conducted an audit after a change in leadership at CIS.

“As soon as the department uncovered this distressing information, swift action was taken. We are actively working through all the cases that were assigned to Officer Schroder and our priority is bringing justice to the victims he impacted by failing to do his job as an investigator with the Cincinnati Police Department,” the statement reads.

“A comprehensive review of all the cases assigned to Officer Schroder since being assigned to the Personal Crimes Squad has been conducted. Any case that requires action has been prioritized and reassigned. Schroder’s police powers were suspended in August of 2021 and he is currently suspended with pay pending the outcome of this investigation.

“As this investigation concludes, further facts and details will be available.

“This egregious incident involving Officer Christopher Schroder tarnishes the badge but is not reflective of the men and women we employ on this department,” Police Chief Eliot Isaac said.

“We believe his actions are so egregious that we are seeking criminal prosecution. We as a department vow to never let something like this happen again.”

Allen said the officer is a good cop who is “extremely remorseful” and had a stellar record until this happened.

Officer Schroder “was having some problems, family problems at the time. A family member, close family member died. And he got into a situation where he let some things go,” Allen said. “I’m not offering that nor is he as an excuse, or justification, but as an explanation.”

Before Officer Schroder joined CPD, he worked as a patrolman/police officer at three police departments in southeastern Indiana: Greendale, Aurora and West Harrison, his personnel file shows. He has been a law enforcement officer overall since 1995.

He graduated from Lawrenceburg High School in 1988 and attended Eastern Kentucky University from 1989 to 1993. His major in college was police administration, his personnel file shows.

He attended the Indiana Law Enforcement Academy and was a member of CPD’s 87th recruit class in 1999.

His job reviews at CPD are mostly positive, but one supervisor did note in a review that Officer Schroder received an “ESL,” or verbal counseling, in 2016, “for neglecting to pick up rape kits in a timely manner. I feel Officer Schroder should attend advanced training on the topic of sexual assault, physical abuse and advanced missing persons investigations. I recommend Officer Schroder study for Police Sergeant. Officer Schroder is an asset to the Personal Crimes Unit and the Cincinnati Police Department.”

Several rape kits were located at Children’s Hospital, “which had been there for several months, four of these kits belonged to cases assigned to Schroder,” according to his personnel file.

The file shows this was a “Violation of Rules and Regulations Section 1.01A. A violation which does not entail a risk of nor leads to physical injury to another or financial loss to the city.”

It also states:

“University Hospital and Children’s Hospital have locked cabinets to secure physical evidence taken from the victim by the examining physician. The physician will identify and place this evidence in paper bags for deposit into the cabinet. The rape evidence kit includes the rape exam report, clothing, pubic combings, fingernail scrapings, blood samples, etc.

“Only (Personal Crimes Section) investigators will pick up and process evidence from University Hospital and Children’s Hospital.”

In Officer Schroder’s most recent two reviews, from January of this year and January 2020, his supervisor wrote: “He requires little to no supervision.”

His supervisor gave him ratings in January of this year of exceeds standards for “Complies with Policies and Procedures,” “Customer Service,” “Teamwork” and “Grooming and Dress,” a copy of his review shows.

He received ratings of meets standards for “Attendance,” “Community Partnerships,” “Decision-Making,” “Problem Solving” “Work Product” and “Written Communication Skills.”

“Officer Schroder has consistently done an outstanding job as it relates to his investigative skills here at Personal Crimes,” Sgt. Jeni Jones wrote in his Jan. 10 review.

“He is dependable and is always available when it comes to assisting other investigators in the unit. Officer Schroder is one of the more senior investigators in Personal Crimes and because of that he is very knowledgeable about past causes that may involve similar circumstances, victims, or suspects that are being investigated presently.

“He interacts well with victims in his case, calling them back in a timely manner and goes above and beyond for them. Officer Schroder is very detailed when he is investigating and closing his reports. He requires little to no supervision. Officer Schroder is always willing to help his co-workers with their investigation without hesitation. He is an asset to the Personal Crimes Unit.”

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