CINCINNATI — A Cincinnati police officer, accused of storing completed rape kits in his police locker and failing to turn them in to prosecutors, is expected to plead guilty to dereliction of duty as soon as next week, according to his criminal defense attorney, Mike Allen.
Officer Christopher Schroder, repeatedly praised by his police supervisors in recent years for his investigative work, is now suspended with pay following an internal CPD investigation.
"These allegations are incredibly disturbing," wrote Hamilton County Prosecutor Joe Deters Wednesday in a statement provided to WCPO 9 News. "We are working closely with our partners in the Cincinnati Police Department to determine the extent to which these allegations have effected investigations."
"Following the appointment of new leadership at our Criminal Investigations Section in June of 2021 an audit was conducted, and that is how this situation involving Officer Christopher Schroder was brought to light," said Police Chief Eliot Isaac in a written statement released Wednesday. "As soon as the department uncovered this distressing information, swift action was taken."
CPD investigators completed 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," Isaac's statement said.
The CPD declined to respond to the WCPO 9 I-Team's questions about the case or how the police department was apparently unable to account for missing rape kits until recently.
"We have received all your questions, but this is an on-going criminal investigation," CPD Spokeswoman Emily Szink wrote in an email response to our questions.
Schroder's police personnel records show in 2016 he failed to pick up four rape kits for months at Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center.
On Dec. 21, 2016, Sgt. David Simpson met with Schroder "to discuss the importance of picking up rape kits and processing them in a timely manner," according to Schroder's police personnel records.
Micaela Deming, policy director of the Ohio Domestic Violence Network, says delays in prosecuting sexual assault cases create more trauma for survivors.
"I have absolutely spoken with survivors months after still waiting for answers an that makes it difficult," Deming said. "It makes it difficult to heal."
Deming says it's concerning that it required a police audit to find missing rape kits.
In his statement, Isaac said that CPD was focused on making sure something like this doesn't happen again.
Schroder's personnel records show supervisors gave him an overall rating of 'exceeds standards' for each of his last five annual performance reviews.
That includes 2016 when a supervisor counseled Shroder for failing to pick up rape kits for months at Children's Hospital.
CPD said the department took away Schroder's policing powers in August following initial findings of the audit.
Schroder is suspended with pay, according to CPD, pending the outcome of the investigation.
Allen told the WCPO 9 I-Team Wednesday that Schroder had reached an agreement with prosecutors to plead guilty to a misdemeanor charge of dereliction of duty.
But in a statement Thursday, Deters said prosecutors haven't reached a plea agreement with Schroder because all parties haven't signed off on it and it must be approved by a judge.