Letter details frustration with Laramie Co. DA

CHEYENNE — A five-page letter sent by the Cheyenne Police Department’s Detective Bureau commander to Laramie County District Attorney Leigh Anne Manlove details his frustration with Manlove’s office after she reportedly declined to charge a suspect in a sexual abuse of a minor case.

In the letter, dated July 2 and obtained last week by the Wyoming Tribune Eagle from the alleged victim’s mother, Lt. Rob Dafoe called the disclosure, facts and probable cause in the case “one of the most substantial I’ve seen in 20 years of law enforcement.”

A “detailed” five-page probable cause affidavit was submitted to Manlove’s office on Oct. 29, and following the submission, a 32-page investigative report was completed by Detective Allison Baca, Dafoe wrote. The investigation described that a young teenage girl had been “repeatedly” sexually assaulted and abused by her mother’s then-boyfriend from January through August 2020.

The department suggested charges of first-degree sexual abuse of a minor and second-degree sexual assault and abuse, according to the letter. Dafoe writes that multiple assaults had been described in medical forensic exams conducted at Cheyenne Regional Medical Center on Aug. 30 and Sept. 1, as well as in a certified forensic interview done at Safe Harbor, and that “the victim’s disclosure was consistent throughout.”

Dafoe wrote that he disagreed with “the declination and/or extraordinary delay in charging this dangerous suspect.”

“This is not a law enforcement shortfall; we did our job,” Dafoe wrote. “Rather, this appears to a be a stall tactic; it is my belief that you were given everything you needed in October 2020 to file several felony charges.

“We are approaching a full year since this [redacted] girl reported being sexually assaulted on a continual basis,” he continued. “This predator has not been prosecuted (or even charged). I believe this victim deserves justice and this man is a public danger.”

Cheyenne Police Department leadership declined to provide additional comment, but confirmed the authenticity of the letter.

When asked, Manlove did not say whether the alleged perpetrator had been charged as of Friday.

“I have deep empathy for all crime victims, but most especially for children and those who have suffered sexual assault,” Manlove said in an email. “As the prosecutor in the office who handles the crimes against children cases, as well as the sexually based offenses, I can assure you that I take the utmost care in making a charging decision in those kinds of cases.”

Manlove she said she could not comment on any particular case, but that “Not every allegation can be proven beyond a reasonable doubt.”

“In filing charges, I am constrained by the evidence and the law,” she said. “I pursue evidence-based prosecutions. I do not pursue prosecutions to satisfy the emotional injustice an alleged victim’s family member feels, no matter how merited those feelings might be. I do not pursue prosecutions to satisfy the demands of law enforcement. I do not pursue prosecutions that are unsupported by the evidence.”

Dafoe writes that, in a “declination of case” letter, dated June 8, Manlove’s office indicated the case could not be prosecuted at the time because additional information was needed. Detective Baca had not been contacted by the district attorney’s office about any of these questions prior to an email from Manlove dated June 7, according to Dafoe’s letter.

In one case, Dafoe wrote that Manlove asked about two prior accusations the alleged victim made that were found to be false, which Dafoe dismissed as irrelevant to the case because they had been made by the alleged victim in early childhood and involved other children.

Dafoe said Manlove also asked about DNA test results that had been posted on Jan. 12.

“It is concerning that you do not have the results in the prosecutor’s module and that you did not raise concerns about the results over 6 months ago,” Dafoe wrote.

Dafoe then questions why any of Manlove’s inquiries – which he called “needless” and lacking in substance – would delay her charging the suspect in the case for seven months.

He wrote that the department would not submit a new probable cause affidavit, despite Manlove’s request, “as there is more than sufficient probable cause.”

“There is very little information that could be added now, almost 8 months later. This appears to be a tactic to restart the clock after a case was seemingly ignored for prosecution,” Dafoe wrote.

On June 11, Wyoming State Bar special counsel filed a formal charge against Manlove with the bar’s Board of Professional Responsibility, alleging “incompetence and lack of professionalism.”

Manlove, through her attorney, Stephen Melchior, filed her formal response to the charge on July 20. She largely denied the allegations against her, including that her alleged behavior violated any of the Rules of Professional Conduct described in the formal charge.

Mark Gifford, attorney for the Wyoming State Bar, said he was familiar with the case referenced in Dafoe’s letter, but he declined to say whether the case was part of any investigation by the Bar.

In the letter, Dafoe wrote that he, Detective Baca and a CPD victim advocate met June 25 with the mother of the alleged victim, whose identity is being withheld by the Wyoming Tribune Eagle so as not to identify the young girl. The mother was “very angry and frustrated” and said the alleged perpetrator is a sexual predator and a threat to public safety.

In an interview with the Wyoming Tribune Eagle, the mother said she’d reported the alleged sexual abuse to CPD in August 2020.

The girl’s mother said she communicated monthly with a victim/witness coordinator with the DA’s office about the case’s status. At one point, she said she was informed of budget cuts that had left the DA’s office shorthanded, but the staff member said that Manlove took these cases very seriously. In April, the mother said she was told that Manlove had been working on the case and would continue to, but other cases had interrupted her review of the case.

Three months after she filed the report about her daughter’s alleged sexual abuse, the mother said, she was charged with neglect by the DA’s office. The mother said that case was later dismissed, but because it was a juvenile case, and thus confidential, the mother’s attorney at the time could not say whether the case had been dismissed. A Laramie County District Court clerk confirmed that juvenile cases are confidential.

The girl’s mother expressed worry about the alleged perpetrator continuing to walk the streets, able to potentially victimize another child. She said she is currently exploring other avenues for prosecution of the case.

She said she feared speaking out because of potential retaliation from the DA’s office, but that she wasn’t sure what else to do in trying to get justice for her daughter.

“I feel like (Manlove is) not giving my daughter the justice that she needs,” the girl’s mother said. “I mean, I can’t say that just by charging him that he’s going to be found guilty ... but knowing he’s removed off the street so that way he cannot have the opportunity to do this to another child, and he’s had (almost a year) to do that again – he should have been removed off the streets back when they filed the affidavit.

“I feel that my family and I have been failed by our justice system. My family has been victimized by my ex-boyfriend, and now we are being victimized by our district attorney.”