Sheriff Joe Arpaio: Too busy “busting illegals” to worry about sexual assaults

As “America’s toughest sheriff,” Joe Arpaio, knows all too well, it’s hard to investigate sexual assaults when you have so much other stuff (mostly an obsession with “illegals”) on your mind.

The sheriff’s office in Maricopa Count, AZ, recently confirmed that between 2005 to 2007, it failed to investigate 432 alleged sex crimes. Arpaio felt so terrible about this, he delivered a heartfelt apology to the victims, saying “Sometimes these kinds of things occur in big departments… if there were any victims, I apologize.” Though uncertain that there were any victims among the more than 400 cases he dropped the ball on, he was somehow certain that his failures to investigate crimes didn’t lead to any additional crimes.

Yet Journalist Ryan Gabrielson from Center for Investigative Reporting disproves this claim. It turns out that just two years after Arpaio’s office ignored an “alleged” rape, the same suspect admitted to raping another victim. The second victim and her family contended that had the sheriff’s department actually investigated the first case and nabbed the rapist the first time around, he wouldn’t have had the opportunity to rape more women. You can read the story here.

But before you judge Arpaio too harshly, try to put yourself in his shoes. I think you’d be pretty pooped if you were as busy as him. Arpaio has organized posses dedicated to hunting “illegals”; forced undocumented women to give birth in shackles; kept prisoners in a “tent city” or “concentration camp” where 2000 prisoners live in tents outside in over 100 degree weather; instituted the world’s first all-juvenile volunteer chain gang; run a website where he brags about serving the cheapest meals in the U.S., feeding prisoners only twice a day, and spending more on canines’ food; made prisoners wear pink underwear and uses pink handcuffs because of the color’s “calming psychological effects.” And Arpaio maintains a website, where he sells pink underwear handcuffs, both of which bear his signature.

So cut the guy some slack.


Born and raised on the mean streets of New York City’s Upper West Side, Katie Halper is a comic, writer, blogger, satirist and filmmaker based in New York. Katie graduated from The Dalton School (where she teaches history) and Wesleyan University (where she learned that labels are for jars.) A director of Living Liberally and co-founder/performer in Laughing Liberally, Katie has performed at Town Hall, Symphony Space, The Culture Project, D.C. Comedy Festival, all five Netroots Nations, and The Nation Magazine Cruise, where she made Howard Dean laugh! and has appeared with Lizz Winstead, Markos Moulitsas, The Yes Men, Cynthia Nixon and Jim Hightower. Her writing and videos have appeared in The New York Times, Comedy Central, The Nation Magazine, Gawker, Nerve, Jezebel, the Huffington Post, Alternet and Katie has been featured in/on NY Magazine, LA Times, In These Times, Gawker,Jezebel, MSNBC, Air America, GritTV, the Alan Colmes Show, Sirius radio (which hung up on her once) and the National Review, which called Katie “cute and some what brainy.” Katie co-produced Tim Robbins’s film Embedded, (Venice Film Festival, Sundance Channel); Estela Bravo’s Free to Fly (Havana Film Festival, LA Latino Film Festival); was outreach director for The Take, Naomi Klein/Avi Lewis documentary about Argentine workers (Toronto & Venice Film Festivals, Film Forum); co-directed New Yorkers Remember the Spanish Civil War, a video for Museum of the City of NY exhibit, and wrote/directed viral satiric videos including Jews/ Women/ Gays for McCain.

Katie is a writer, comedian, filmmaker, and New Yorker.

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  • nazza

    Why would anyone volunteer to be on a chain gang? Back in the 90’s, a governor of Alabama (I think it was Fob James) re-instituted involuntary chain gangs. There was an immediate outpouring of indignation and a court ruled the practice unconstitutional. It may have even been the SCOTUS.

  • Andrew

    And I wonder how many of those immigrants were found to have committed rapes, as the RW will appeal to people’s fear of violent/sexual crime to gain support for agendas like Arpaio’s.

  • Claire Walsh

    It makes me sick that Joe Arpaio has the audacity to say “if there were any victims” in relation to sex crimes victims. Are you kidding me? This isn’t stealing gum from a convenience store, Joe, it’s rape. A bit deal.

    I was unaware of his very pink jail wear and other pink styles. If the benefits went to Joe, I’d be upset about that but since their site says it benefits the youth of Maricopa – if that in fact is true, then I’ll let that point of the article rest.

    Bragging about spending more on dog food than people food really isn’t something to celebrate – at least for most people.

    It is shameful how much time and resources are spent fighting “illegals” and ignoring sex crime victims.

    I will pass this article along!

  • Brüno

    “Sheriffs are elected to four-year terms in 41 states, two-year terms in three states, a three-year term in one state (New Jersey) and a six-year term in one state (Massachusetts).”

    There is your problem right there. Why connect yourself to such an unpopular topic such as rape, when open borders are all the rage and the hot topic do jour. Why you might even lose some male votes if you penalize men for acting on their natural urges.

  • Susan C Mitchell

    Arpaio has been ordered by the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals to improve conditions in the county’s holding facilities. He’s had to be ordered TWICE to allow prisoners and “pre-trial detainees” — persons who’ve been arrested, but have been convicted of no crime and are thus under US law considered innocent — “access to … sinks, toilets, toilet paper and soap” and meals that meet USDA guidelines. (He’s proud of feeding inmates on rotten fruit, boiled potato peelings and MCSO’s famous “green bologna”.)