(The Washington Post) – Almost seven years ago, a troubled 11-year-old girl reported that she had been raped — twice — in her Northwest Washington neighborhood. Despite medical evidence of sexual assault, records show that no suspects were arrested and the cases were given only sporadic attention by the police. Instead, in the second case, the police had the girl, Danielle Hicks-Best, charged with filing a false report.
After Danielle’s family agreed to what her parents say was a poorly understood plea, she was convicted and made a ward of the court. She spent the next few years in and out of detention and secure treatment centers between episodes of running away. She never finished high school, had a baby at 15 and is struggling to move forward with her life.
“After 11, she lost the rest of her childhood,” said Danielle’s mother, Veronica Best, who campaigned for years with her husband, Mayo, to get the police to focus on the assaults, contacting officers all the way up the chain to D.C. Police Chief Cathy L. Lanier and her deputy, Peter Newsham.
Last fall, after inquiries from The Washington Post, the department launched new investigations into the cases and the way they were handled, according to the Bests and a law enforcement officer familiar with the matter.