News 4 Investigates: “blackout drunk” former city prosecutor reports violent assault, police say “it may be fabricated”
ST. LOUIS, Mo. (KMOV) - A former assistant circuit attorney in St. Louis filed a police report saying she was sexually assaulted by three Black men at gunpoint in Lafayette Square in October 2020. Police believe it may be fabricated, and they pulled surveillance video which they say shows “no assault occurred.”
Natalia Ogurkiewicz resigned from the Circuit Attorney’s Office earlier in April, citing a toxic work environment. Her resignation came a day after the St. Louis Police Department (SLMPD) publicly released the sexual assault report to News 4 Investigates.
Ogurkiewicz declined to do an interview with News 4 Investigates about the report. During a phone call, she stated, “Insinuating that I was fabricating the police report of something that happened to me as a prosecutor is pretty ridiculous.”
On October 17, 2020, two weeks after Ogurkiewicz started working for the Circuit Attorney’s Office, she called police and reported an assault. According to police, Ogurkiewicz said the assault happened that night, which was a Saturday.
In the report, police say Ogurkiewicz told them as she was leaving a bar on Park Avenue a car stopped at the intersection of Park and Mississippi Avenues. The report says Ogurkiewicz claimed the driver stayed in the car and “three suspects ran towards her, at which time all (3) three suspects started pointing handguns at her, and cornered her against a wall.” Police say Ogurkiewicz told them, “Three suspects continued to point their handguns at her and begin to grope her.” The report says Ogurkiewicz described the suspects as “three unknown Black men,” and it includes descriptions of their hair, ages, weight, clothing, and guns.
Police say Ogurkiewicz reported, “One suspect asked her why she had her lanyard, to which she replied she is an attorney in St. Louis and they should not harm her because she is not just an average citizen.”
According to the police report, the suspects decided “they should just leave her alone” then ran back to the car and “fled.” Police say Ogurkiewicz told them she went to her car and “proceeded to take her boyfriend food at his work before going home and contacting this Department [SLMPD].”
Based on the report, detectives called Ogurkiewicz the next day, October 18, 2020, “to clarify details.” According to the report, Ogurkiewicz said after the assault happened, she “attempted to contact this department [SLMPD] via 911 emergency dispatch but was placed on hold. At this time she decided she would bring her ‘carry out’ food order to her boyfriend.”
Police say Ogurkiewicz also told them she was drinking at the bar until last call and had more drinks when she got home and then she called police.
According to the report, Ogurkiewicz “believed we were ‘wasting our time’ trying to solve this.”
Detectives then found security camera video. In the report, they say it shows Ogurkiewicz leaving the bar “without stopping.” In the report, police wrote, “No assault occurred.”
News 4 Investigates obtained the surveillance video from SLMPD. Police blurred the angle where you can see Ogurkiewicz’s face, which is a standard procedure for reported sexual assaults.
In the report, police wrote Ogurkiewicz “was in full view of the camera” and “was not wearing any type of lanyard.” They also noted the street was busy with other people and cars.
Police pointed out in their report that the video shows Ogurkiewicz walking past an SLMPD substation. The substation is located steps away from where Ogurkiewicz told police she was assaulted.
Detectives contacted Ogurkiewicz again, writing in their report she said she was “blackout drunk.” The report says Ogurkiewicz wasn’t sure “where, when or if, the assault actually occurred.”
The report says, “She was concerned she may be terminated should her employer find out she drove in such an intoxicated condition.”
According to the report Ogurkiewicz “again stated she did not want us to conduct any follow-up investigation.”
News 4 Investigates spoke with Ogurkiewicz on the phone. She declined an interview.
“I was very, very new to the area as far as going out and I’m not willing to make any other statements regarding this especially given that the night in question I was very intoxicated, so you are more than welcome to call my lawyer but I did not fabricate any sort of report,” Ogurkiewicz explained on the phone.
News 4 Investigates contacted Ogurkiewicz’s attorney; he did not provide an interview or statement.
Ogurkiewicz was never charged with filing a false police report.
News 4 Investigates asked SLMPD why the case was closed and if their investigation was ever referred to the Circuit Attorney’s Office. A department spokesman sent an email saying, “We will not be making anyone available for an interview related to this request.”
“Some really bad things could have came out of all of this,” said President of the St. Louis City Branch of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) Adolphus Pruitt, II. “That could have wound up with some folks losing their lives.”
Pruitt read the report and then gave News 4 his take.
“Teens, dark shirt, dark shoes, she gave heights and weights, that could have been just about anybody,” Pruitt said.
Pruitt says he believes this could have escalated.
“Police encounters with young Black males often time can lead to some very tragic outcomes and especially if police are heightened where they believe they are now going after some bad actors with weapons,” Pruitt said. “Police are going to approach that car weapons drawn, police are going to approach that car with a very heightened sense of danger to some degree and anyone false move anything can result in some very disastrous outcomes for everybody involved.”
Pruitt says he also wants to know why police didn’t take the case further.
“I would have thought that the police should have done more in this instance,” he added.
The St. Louis City NAACP has now taken another step. On Thursday, they submitted a bar complaint against Ogurkiewicz with the Office of Chief Disciplinary Counsel of the Supreme Court of Missouri. In the complaint written by Pruitt, he cites the police report and mentions statistics on police killings involving Black men.
“Why would someone accuse people of an attack if it didn’t happen?” Saint Louis Law University Professor Dr. Anders Walker questioned. “Generally speaking, if you file a false police report it’s a misdemeanor.”
Ogurkiewicz made this report two weeks into her job at the St. Louis Circuit Attorney’s Office. In the following years, she worked her way up to one of the few prosecutors assigned to the “violent crimes” division, meaning her cases included shootings and murders.
“The problem is this could go to credibility in any number of other contexts for example if character comes into play, if an attorney wants to undermine the credibility of a witness, something like this is very damaging,” Walker added.
This begs the question did St. Louis Circuit Attorney Kim Gardner know about this report? Gardner would not do an interview. In response to News 4 Investigates her office sent the following statement: “The Circuit Attorney’s Office was not aware of the details of this incident until the media brought it to our attention.”
Ogurkiewicz told News 4 Investigates on the phone that she informed a manager at the Circuit Attorney’s Office about the report. She also told News 4 Investigates on the phone that she didn’t want to be the person sending juveniles into the system. According to the police report all three suspects were identified as men ages 25-30.
“The whole situation is disturbing,” said Defense Lawyer Scott Rosenblum. “Disturbing that this person singled out three African Americans; I mean that’s almost like a cliché, and coming from a prosecutor, of course that’s disturbing.”
When Rosenblum read the police report he had questions.
“Why are you bringing your position into it? Why are you telling a detailed story and then when the walls start closing in why do you then pull the blackout drunk card, which doesn’t really fit the narrative when you go through the police report?” Rosenblum asked.
Rosenblum’s firm represented multiple clients where Ogurkiewicz was the prosecutor.
When asked if he was concerned about how those cases were prosecuted, Rosenblum responded, “There’s nothing concerning as we were going through the process, I always considered her a good prosecutor who did her job, certainly committed, but in hindsight 20/20 this would certainly indicate that she had some judgment issues.”
Detectives say they asked Ogurkiewicz for a recorded or written statement, but she had nothing to say, writing in their report, “She has not contacted me or any other officer.”
Ogurkiewicz has now put herself front and center in another investigation as the state’s Attorney General looks into St. Louis Circuit Attorney Kim Gardner.
In February, Missouri Attorney General Andrew Bailey filed to remove Gardner as the elected prosecutor, accusing her of neglecting her office and mishandling cases. Gardner denies the allegations and says this is politically motivated as an un-elected attorney general attempts to remove an elected prosecutor.
The attorney general’s case was sparked by a Downtown crash that caused 17-year-old volleyball player Janae Edmondson to lose her legs. The accused driver Daniel Riley had a pending armed robbery case from 2020 and was out on bond.
Reporting by News 4 Investigates found Riley violated his bond more than 100 times, including the night of the crash.
Riley’s case was assigned to Ogurkiewicz.
“Our interest is to make sure that the truth comes out,” Ogurkiewicz told reporters earlier in April following the first hearing held in the attorney general’s case against Gardner.
“I want the public to know that we weren’t set up to succeed and that’s exactly what the attorney general said because it’s true,” Ogurkiewicz told reporters.
The Attorney General subpoenaed Ogurkiewicz and she publicly said she’ll cooperate and show proof that Gardner wasn’t doing her job.
“I’m still committed to doing everything I can for the city citizens because that’s who I took an oath to and I didn’t forget that,” Ogurkiewicz added after the hearing.
Ogurkiewicz maintains she didn’t fabricate anything. She recently texted News 4 Investigates saying, “I drank too much and was certain but mistaken regarding a location and area I was very unfamiliar with. I spoke with the police more than once and had nothing more to add.”
Ogurkiewicz claims someone from the Circuit Attorney’s Office is spreading this to try and smear her since she’s cooperating with the attorney general’s investigation into her former boss.
News 4 Investigates has been looking into the police report for weeks, well before Ogurkiewicz announced her willingness to assist in the attorney general’s investigation.
Ogurkiewicz told News 4 Investigates on the phone that she hadn’t read the police report until Wednesday, April 26, 2023. During that same phone call, Ogurkiewicz said she plans to file an Internal Affairs Division complaint with SLMPD because the officer wrote in the report, “I suspected this incident may have been fabricated.”
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