In a response to a federal lawsuit, the city of Chattanooga admitted that a rape report had been made against one of the city's police officers, but attempts to substantiate the allegation or identify the suspected officer were unsuccessful, city attorneys say.
Former officer Desmond Logan, 34, admitted during a plea hearing in federal court to raping three women in his custody and using a Taser on a fourth woman in an isolated parking lot at the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga.
In the meantime, the last woman to accuse Logan of rape — a woman identified only as K.B. — has filed a federal civil lawsuit against the city. Her June 2018 allegation is what spurred a federal investigation into the officer's history of misconduct. Her attorneys — Christopher Smith, David Smith, Dominick Smith, W. Lyon Chadwick Jr. and Chad Phillips — claim the police department knew of earlier allegations of sexual misconduct, something for which they say the city is liable.
An earlier victim — identified as T.L. in Logan's federal indictment — previously told the Times Free Press she was raped by Logan in an empty parking lot late one night in 2015. She said she reported the assault to the police department, but Logan's personnel files show no record of an official investigation into that incident.
In its response to the lawsuit, the heart of the city's argument is that, while the city acknowledged the existence of T.L.'s complaint, the city shouldn't be held liable for Logan's misconduct because no policymakers were aware of it or any other complaints.
That's because, they say, the complaint only "implicated an officer named as 'Unknown', [sic] 'Logan' or 'Tate.'" And the accuser "would not meet with investigators or otherwise cooperate." So prior to June 11, 2018, the city claims it was unable to establish whether Logan — or any other officers — had, in fact, committed the alleged crime, city attorney Joe Kelly wrote.
Whether T.L.'s 2015 report identified Logan by name or by another name is unclear, as the city has denied several open records requests by the Times Free Press. But in July 2018, she told the Times Free Press that Logan told her his name was "Officer Tate," though his name tag said "Logan."
The city also has denied prior knowledge of the UTC incident.
According to a UTC police incident report, Logan was working an extra job at the university in January 2016 when he asked a woman — identified as D.H. in the federal indictment — to drive him to an empty parking lot. While in her car, he grabbed her, pulled out his handcuffs and fired his stun gun near her leg. She became upset, and he ultimately left after she told him she needed to get home before her family members began to worry.
After that, Logan was no longer allowed to work for the UTC Police Department. But the university didn't pass the information along to Chattanooga police, Robie Robinson, UTC executive director of emergency services, previously told the Times Free Press. From UTC's perspective, the incident had been handled — officials there filed a report and fired the employee. The woman who reported the incident also didn't want it to go any further, Robinson said.
However, at the time of the incident, then-Assistant Chattanooga police Chief Edwin McPherson was the point of contact for Chattanooga officers working at the university, according to police officials. If he'd been made aware of the police report, he would have known the suspect was Logan, as the report identifies him by name.
McPherson, now retired, and retired Capt. Pedro Bacon have come up in the investigation for their potential roles in covering up years of rape accusations against Logan, the Times Free Press previously reported. But the city has denied requests for any digital footprints or emails that may confirm the allegations, citing the federal investigation and criminal investigation by the county sheriff's office.
The city has denied "the factual allegations contained in" two of the Times Free Press articles, according to the city's response to the lawsuit.
Attorney Kelly said the denial was not a challenge to the newspaper's reporting but a matter of legal process, as the allegations hadn't yet been proven in court. In a response to a lawsuit, attorneys must either admit or deny allegations, and since the city has "no personal knowledge that it's correct," they are denying it, Kelly clarified.
"These stories were reported in-depth over months with more than a dozen sources from all sides of the case — including some who the city attorney represents," former Times Free Press reporter Mark Pace, who covered a majority of the Logan case, said in an email. "Some of the information the city is denying has been publicly acknowledged as factually correct by the police department and others. Most importantly, Desmond Logan admitted to the crimes, was charged and is in jail."
Logan resigned from the Chattanooga Police Department just minutes before his disciplinary hearing. He is now being held in the Bradley County Jail while he awaits a sentencing hearing later this month. He faces a maximum of 10 years in prison on two counts of deprivation of rights.