Monday, June 18, 2018
Public safety

Pinellas clerks suspended for destroying evidence in unsolved rape case

LARGO — Two property clerks at the Pinellas County Sheriff's Office were suspended for mistakenly destroying evidence related to an unsolved sexual battery case in Clearwater, internal affairs records show.

In July 2012, property clerk James Ponds removed the 12 items of evidence from the Property and Evidence Division, which were later destroyed. Another clerk, Diane Huff, failed to note that a form attached to the items "was clearly marked to hold these items, as it was still an active case," according to records.

The error was discovered in February when a Clearwater police detective requested that the items be sent out for DNA analysis.

Ponds was suspended for 48 hours and Huff for 16 hours.

The evidence was related to an unsolved rape that was reported in June 2008, when a mentally disabled 18-year-old girl walked away from a group home in Tampa. A man picked her up and drove her to Sand Key Park, where he sexually assaulted her, police said.

"Because all the evidence for the case was destroyed and there is no suspect," records state, "there are no further leads for the detective to investigate at this time."

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