A St. Paul police officer was placed on paid administrative leave Thursday after a federal Court of Appeals in Tennessee said she lied in a statewide sex-trafficking case involving three Twin Cities men who were recently cleared of charges.
St. Paul police spokesman Steve Linders confirmed that Sgt. Heather Weyker, the lead agent in the case, was placed on leave.
“We are aware of the judge’s decision, and the information in the court documents,” Linders said. “They are extremely concerning to us, and immediately upon hearing about the court documents … we launched an internal affairs investigation.”
Idris Ibrahim Fahra, Andrew Kayachith and Yassin Abdirahman Yusuf each spent more than four years in jail after being found guilty of conspiracy to commit sex trafficking of children. After the jury convictions, a district judge acquitted the three, saying the evidence and testimony did not back the charges. The Sixth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals upheld that decision this week, and questioned the truthfulness of the police officer and a key witness.
The officer was caught lying to the grand jury and “likely exaggerated or fabricated important aspects” of a story that a key witness, Jane Doe No. 2, was taken in by the Somali gang members for sex, according to the decision.
When Weyker, who served on an FBI task force on sex trafficking in 2008, tried to speak with Jane Doe No. 2, her parents objected.
According to the decision: Weyker then “met Jane Doe 2 surreptitiously at her school.” They met in “secret meetings” more than 30 times. The meetings also “produced a story in which Jane Doe 2 was not a troubled runaway or juvenile delinquent, but was instead an innocent child taken in by Somali gangs who used her for sex.”
The district court caught Weyker “lying to the grand jury and, later, lying during a detention hearing, and scolded her for it on record.” Weyker also lied on an application to get the witness’ family $3,000 in victim compensation by claiming that Jane Doe No. 2 was abducted, when the witness denied that she was.
Jane Doe No. 2 told Nashville police that she willingly went on the road trip to Tennessee with several boys and had sex with several people.
The decision went on to say: “She also wrote out and signed a statement saying the same. She did not mention any prostitution or sex trafficking. But when the Nashville police put her on the telephone with officer Weyker, she changed her story to include acts of prostitution and sex trafficking.”