Little progress on hate crimes

Lack of evidence has stalled police investigations

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COEUR d'ALENE - This week's resignation of Rachel Dolezal from her position at the Human Rights Education Institute has sparked Press readers' interest in the status of the police investigations involving alleged hate crimes Dolezal reported to law enforcement and the media during the past 18 months.

Last September, a noose was found on the porch of a Spokane home where Dolezal was living. That investigation has been suspended since last fall. Spokane police officer Jennifer DeRuwe reported Tuesday that detectives followed several leads but turned up nothing. If new information becomes available, they will reactivate the case.

Of the three cases filed with the Coeur d'Alene Police Department, two are inactive with no leads at this time. That includes a June incident when a noose was found hanging outside Dolezal's Coeur d'Alene home, and an Aug. 5 incident when a swastika sticker was placed on the door of the Human Rights Education Institute.

Video recorded by a security camera installed inside the institute did not capture an image of a suspect the night the swastika sticker was placed on the institute's glass front door. Coeur d'Alene police Sgt. Christie Wood said her department's reports indicate the camera "was not working at the time," but did not indicate why.

"We had a power surge, a power outage kind of thing, which reset our system the week before that happened," Dolezal told The Press on Wednesday. "Donna was working with the security people. It wasn't until that happened that I realized there was no monitoring going on."

Donna Cork, the institute's former director of operations, found the sticker on the door in the morning when she reported for work. Cork has not been employed at the institute for several months, and could not be reached for comment.

A third incident in Coeur d'Alene, a report of phone harassment, was made by Dolezal. She did not report this incident to the media when it occurred in April.

A Coeur d'Alene police officer responded and recorded an audio message found on Dolezal's phone as evidence.

The phone number of the caller was restricted, and detectives were unable to locate a person with the name left on the threatening message. According to the police report, the female caller identified herself as "Brenda Laflortin."

The caller accused Dolezal, who is an instructor at North Idaho College, of "getting high and sleeping with black people in her class," and further stated that Rachel "needs to be very scared."

Dolezal told police she wanted to press charges, but the city prosecutor's office declined due to lack of sufficient evidence.

City Attorney Wes Summerton said they could not prosecute without a suspect.

Coeur d'Alene police ask anyone with information on these crimes to please contact the police department at 769-2320.

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