Lara McLeod was raped by her sister Hera’s fiancée Joaquim Rams at his home in 2011 when she was 19. But in a horrible turn of events, Lara was the one who was arrested.
She said he threatened her with a gun and said she had to either have sex with him or he would force her to go to a party where she would be gang-raped by a group of men.
The next day she told her parents but had no plans to call the police. Her parents then called her sister who requested a police escort to go collect her belongings from their home in Manassas, Virginia.
Lara was then required to make a formal complaint.
After a cursory investigation in which Rams said he had had consensual sex with Lara she was accused of making a false report.
After a cursory investigation of the claim they compelled her to file, the police abruptly concluded Lara was lying about being raped and arrested her. Hera was charged with obstructing justice for aiding Lara’s alleged deceit, and had to spend her savings on legal fees to get them dismissed. Lara’s charges were eventually expunged, but not before her reputation was destroyed. She says she still has severe panic attacks whenever she sees a police officer.
But the worst was yet to come.
In the ensuing battle for custody over Prince, Hera and Joaquin’s infant son, it emerged that not only had Joaquin lied about his name, employment history, and age — he was a decade older than he had claimed — but he had also once been a suspect in his ex-girlfriend’s shooting death and a person of interest in his mother’s death, too, although he was never successfully charged in either case. He had been accused of child abuse by his other son, although never convicted, and ran an amateur porn site.
But thanks to the charges against Hera and Lara, Joaquin was able to portray himself as a comparatively fit parent — and the victim of a smear job. The judge granted Joaquin unsupervised visits. Three months later, EMTs found Prince unconscious on the floor of Joaquin’s house. The 15-month-old died the next day. Months later, Joaquin was charged with capital murder.
Rams was charged with capital murder and his trial is scheduled for January next year. He denies the charges.
In 2013, at the insistence of the McLeod family, the police department conducted an investigation into their handling of the case.
Police Chief Steve Hudson admitted privately that he thought the charges against Lara should not have been made and agreed that detectives had “reached a conclusion and didn’t pursue it further”. He also said it was “improper” that they had allowed Rams to receive the video himself.
But he refused to release a public apology or commit to more training for officers involved in sexual assault cases saying their training was already “cutting edge”.
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