Names, addresses of accusers in collection of sexual assaults uncovered

CHICAGO (CBS) — It’s info the general public is not imagined to see. CBS 2 fought for months to maintain such info sealed. Laws had been handed to guard that info, however we discovered it anyway. Full names and addresses of alleged sexual assault victims in a high-profile case; accusers of a serial scooter groper.

More than two weeks in the past, we informed you a few man accused of driving across the South Loop and West Loop on a scooter, groping ladies.

The suspect was arrested, and is now out on bond. We needed to search out out extra about his background, however uncovered one other concern that made his accusers indignant and cringe.

The accusers on this case had been reluctant to come back ahead even to police, for concern of retaliation and public scrutiny; however after we went digging into this case, we discovered their identities and most delicate info was accessible with the stroke of a keyboard.

“I was walking down the street, this was the middle of the day. Someone came up behind me and groped me,” stated one lady who was sexually assaulted by the suspected serial groper.

“I was, at first, really shocked and confused,” she stated.

The sufferer would not need her identify or face revealed to guard her identification, proper she has beneath the regulation.

For months, 36-year-old Victor Manuel-Reyes was on the unfastened, and on the general public’s radar, after a number of ladies got here ahead with the identical story: a person on a motorized skateboard groping them.

“I was groped behind from this man under my shorts,” Paige Ruhnke.

Manuel-Reyes was charged earlier this week with one felony rely of felony sexual assault, one felony rely of aggravated battery in a public place, and one felony rely of aggravated felony sexual assault with bodily hurt.

Police say he was recognized as the person who was groping ladies whereas driving a motorized one-wheeled skateboard in at the least two separate incidents.

The CBS 2 Investigators checked Manuel-Reyes’ courtroom information, and located one thing we weren’t imagined to see: the names and addresses of all the ladies accusing him of assault.

The CBS 2 investigators have lengthy uncovered the harmful flaw that failed to hide the identities of kid intercourse assault victims.

In 2021, we sat down with Cook County Circuit Court Clerk Iris Martinez, who promised motion.

“These victims have been victims, they’ve been traumatized by this, and it’s important that we protect that identity,” she stated.

Because of our investigation, state lawmakers in 2021 handed a pair of recent legal guidelines to strengthen privateness protections for intercourse crime survivors. Those legal guidelines went into impact this 12 months.

So, think about the shock when, simply this week, we pulled up the non-public info of alleged victims in Manuel-Reyes’ case. A visit to the Cook County courthouse, a fast search of Manuel-Reyes’ identify on the public kiosk, and we bought the complete unredacted courtroom report.

Out of respect, we let Manuel-Reyes’ accusers know what we discovered.   

“It’s really scary to know,” a type of victims informed us. 

“I don’t know who this person is. I don’t know how angry there going to be with me or us after this, what they’re going to do. And so having my name concealed was really important,” one other stated.

It’s particularly problematic since Manuel-Reyes is out on bond, in line with advocates for intercourse assault victims.

“To have them be in the public eye unnecessarily is another violation,” stated Jason Wynkoop, chief program officer at Chicago Children’s Advocacy Center, after we introduced him our findings.

We additionally took our issues as soon as once more to Clerk Martinez, to ask her the way it occurred.

“Probably a combination of many things that are going on,” she stated.

Martinez blamed human error, new hires, and hiccups in coaching.

“It was something that we have to continue to educate and work with our technology, making sure our technology is doing what’s it’s supposed to be doing, and making sure our clerks are also checking the information and double-checking to make sure this doesn’t happen again,” she stated.

Her workplace sealed the Manuel-Reyes courtroom paperwork as quickly as we introduced it to their consideration, promising new safeguards.

“We are running, thanks to you, daily reports to make sure that if anything needs to be, it’s addressed in that report,” she stated.

Martinez stated, since January, her workplace has sealed greater than 2,500 different instances like this one, with hundreds left to go. She hopes this added layer of safety will assist display screen outdated and new instances that also should be redacted. 

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