WITN reports that from August 2015 to June 2016, a 22-year-old woman was locked in a chicken wire cage covered in tree branches and tarps. She was held captive, made to perform sex acts, shot with a BB gun, and forced to eat her mother’s ashes.
According to prosecutors, she was tormented because she is autistic. Four people were charged with a variety of crimes, such as forced labor, attempted sex trafficking, and hate crimes.
Yet, the case does not show up in federal hate crime data. In the past 10 years, at least 65 other high-profile hate crime cases investigated by the FBI do not show up either. The FBI is failing to report accurate hate crimes numbers, which breaks the Uniform Federal Crime Reporting Act of 1998. The law requires all federal agencies to report hate crime data.
“If they’re not [reporting], I will land on them like a ton of bricks,” Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-Vermont, the senior member of the Senate Judiciary Committee.
“They should have been submitting, and someone needs to hold them to account for that,” said Cynthia Deitle, a former FBI special agent. Deitle is now the programs and operations director of the Matthew Shepard Foundation, an organization that deals with hate-related issues.
InvestigateTV asked the FBI for accurate statistics and why it will not report accurate numbers. The agency responded in March saying that it will not report numbers in the 2019 hate crime data collection. The FBI says it is working toward reporting in the next couple of years.
Deitle says that accurate numbers are important because the data is the main tool used by agencies to identify threats ahead of time.
“You need to know where there is a greater likelihood of a hate crime occurring. And the only way you’re going to know that and be able to stop it is if you’re relying on good, accurate information and intelligence and data,” she said.
Deitle says the solution is to go back and fix the data, including adding the serious, unreported cases.