The Maricopa County Sheriff's Office claimed its sex crimes investigation was active and ongoing until Monday, but records obtained by CBS 5 News show no activity for the entire year of 2012.
Sheriff Joe Arpaio was in a tight re-election campaign last year, and his office refused to release the sex crimes records, stating an investigation was ongoing.
The investigation centered on the mishandling of hundreds of child sex crimes. Records show an overworked and understaffed special victims unit dropped cases with little or no investigation.
The cases spanned a four-year time period between 2004 and 2008. The internal investigation cleared the detectives and their supervisors, concluding that the problem was the result of a system failure rather than the work of a few employees.
On Monday, MCSO released the 10,000-page report after repeated public records requests by CBS 5 News and the threat of legal action against the sheriff's office.
The records show the investigation was active between 2008 and 2009, when it was ordered shut down by then chief deputy David Hendershott. The investigation resumed in 2010.
Among the last documents listed in the report were notices of pending suspensions against five detectives and supervisors who were members of the special victims unit during the time period in question.
The notices were dated Nov. 8, 2011, and stated the causes of the suspension orders were incompetency and neglect of duty.
The next documents in the record were dated Feb. 11. They cleared the officers of wrongdoing.
CBS 5 News contacted the sheriff's office to ask about the apparent inactivity during 2012. Here is the response:
"After the predetermination letters were generated in November 2011, the 400-plus sex crimes cases were turned over for complete review by the criminal division of the [Maricopa County Attorney's Office] in order to determine whether there were any final/additional concerns which needed to be addressed. The cases were then returned to the sheriff's office for any additional investigative work requested by the MCAO.
The IA documents (released to the public on Monday) were sent for further administrative review by the sheriff's office internal affairs division in 2012. The civil division of the MCAO also spent much of 2012 reviewing the administrative documents.
Both reviews were completed in 2012. Recommendations were made from both the criminal and civil side from the MCAO, and the sheriff's office followed up on those recommendations.
Chief [Brian] Sands then conducted additional review of the IA report and after meeting with legal counsel, made a final decision regarding discipline that was made public Monday, February 11, 2013."
There are no records in the 10,000-page internal investigation that support MCSO's statement.
Copyright 2013 CBS 5 (KPHO Broadcasting Corporation). All rights reserved.