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Feds won't help accuser in Ramsey case

by B.J.Plasket
Daily Times-Call

DENVER In spite of laws requiring it to provide protection and medical treatment to crime victims, the FBI has so far neither offered nor provided help for a woman who fled California three weeks ago after coming forward with accusations of interstate sexual abuse by a group that includes figures in the JonBenet Ramsey murder investigation.

As of late Monday, the woman was being treated for assault-related ailments and injuries at a metro-area medical facility, where she was taken by the private individuals who have been caring for her since she fled California.

Denver FBI officials, meanwhile, say the woman is someone else's problem.

"We are not in the business of providing services to everyone who makes allegations," said Jane Quimby, the public information officer for the FBI's Denver office. "The FBI has not determined that a federal crime took place."

Quimby said Denver FBI agents interviewed the Mystery Woman about two weeks ago and forwarded information to agents in California.

The U.S. Attorney's Office in Denver said it has no responsibility to offer the woman help unless a formal case is filed.

"Until a case comes through our door we are not involved," said Jeff Dorschner, a spokesman for U.S. Attorney Tom Strickland.

The woman has claimed she was abused both as a child and an adult and that the attacks took place in several states.

Boulder police, who also interviewed the so-called Mystery Woman and were made aware of both her physical problems and her safety concerns, have likewise not offered the services mandated by state law, it has been learned.

Boulder Police Chief Mark Beckner, speaking Monday through public information officer Jana Petersen, said he was unaware any request had been made.

The Times-Call has learned, however, that the Mystery Woman told officers of her physical problems and safety concerns at the time she was interviewed, but that no assistance was offered. Her lawyer, Lee Hill, said the woman received only two business cards from the detectives.

The Times-Call has also learned that the woman, after being interviewed by the Boulder detectives, implored a female officer to photograph an injury she claimed was made by an electrical-shock device just prior to her leaving California.

The woman has claimed that the same people who prostituted her as a child have continued a pattern of sadistic assaults during her adulthood. The female officer who took the picture reportedly promised to show it to detectives.

The Mystery Woman's ailments include an abdominal injury, sexually transmitted diseases and wounds made by the shock device. The female detective reportedly told the woman the shock wound near her buttocks "goes to the bone."

District Attorney Alex Hunter, speaking Monday afternoon through spokeswoman Suzanne Laurion, said victim assistance is available to the woman.

A reliable source close to the case, however, told the Times-Call the district attorney's office earlier asked the woman's attorney to take a wait-and-see attitude toward accessing those resources.

So far the only public assistance given to Mystery Woman has come from a metro-area "safe house" that arranged for some medical care at a Denver hospital. The woman stayed only a few days at the safe house because of the concerns that the high-profile nature of the case would endanger the secret location of the facility.

The FBI's refusal to help the woman comes on the heels of new federal guidelines issued in January by Attorney General Janet Reno. Those guidelines, developed under the 1997 revisions to the federal Victim Witness Protection Act, require local FBI agents to inform victims of what is available to them. The law also requires the FBI to provide for counseling, safe-housing, testing for sexually-transmitted diseases and medical care.

Reno, in a foreword to the new guidelines, wrote, "Criminal justice system personnel have a special responsibility to treat crime victims and witnesses fairly by enforcing their rights, properly including them in criminal justice system process, making referrals to appropriate services and holding perpetrators accountable."

Reno further touted the new rules in the February issue of "Justice For All," the Department of Justice newsletter.

"These guidelines," she said, "reflect my strong belief that victims should play a central role in the criminal justice system and my commitment that all components of the Justice Department respond to crime victims with compassion, fairness and respect."

The now 37-year-old Mystery Woman said she tried to phone FBI agents on Monday, but got only an answering machine.