A 55-year-old Kansas City man accused of molesting several children has been freed from jail, and the charges against him have been dropped, four years after he was first investigated by a failed Kansas City police unit that has seen most of its detectives suspended.
Parrish Smith was released from custody June 15 after prosecutors with the Missouri attorney general’s office moved to dismiss the charges against him: four counts of child molestation and two sodomy-related charges.
The Star highlighted Smith’s case last year in an investigation of the Kansas City Police Department’s troubled Crimes Against Children unit.
Court records and interviews with family members told of how Smith had been accused in 2013 of molesting a 3-year-old girl and remained free for years despite DNA evidence while three other girls accused him of touching them inappropriately.
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A relative of the alleged 3-year-old victim said family members are upset at Smith’s release.
“I don’t know why they let him out,” she said.
A relative of another victim has said that a prosecutor or a detective told her two years ago that someone had “dropped the ball” on the case.
A spokeswoman for the Missouri attorney general confirmed the charges were dismissed but did not answer questions about the case.
Police first learned of the accusations against Smith in 2013, when the 3-year-old girl told relatives Smith had been molesting her. Lab tests linked Smith’s DNA to a semen stain on the girl’s underwear.
Smith remained free, and nine months later, in the summer of 2014, three other girls accused him of touching them inappropriately.
Smith was arrested and charged in December 2015, 2 1/2 years after he was first reported to police.
That arrest came after the Police Department began an internal investigation of the Crimes Against Children unit, which had responsibility for the case. The next month, the Police Department suspended two sergeants and seven of eight detectives in the unit.
Police memos identified nearly 150 cases that had been “severely mishandled,” in some cases showing “gross negligence” by detectives and possibly deceitful attempts to cover up failures.
An internal investigation of the unit continues, and police officials have not said when it will end. One police commander labeled the unit’s problems one of the biggest systemic failures he had ever seen.
Smith’s case was one of 21 that Jackson County Prosecutor Jean Peters Baker handed over to a special prosecutor with the Missouri attorney general’s office.
Peters Baker requested the special prosecutor for those cases because she had identified a conflict of interest for her office.
The cases had been worked on by Detective Tamara Solomon of the Crimes Against Children unit. Solomon had been arrested in a domestic violence investigation that did not lead to charges but prompted Peters Baker to call the child abuse hotline out of concern for the safety of the children who lived in her home.
When charged, Smith pleaded not guilty. After he was freed, an attorney representing him did not return a call seeking comment on this story.
Police Department officials declined to comment on the Smith case, as they have with other cases touched by the internal investigation.
Multiple detectives who worked on Smith’s case were among those later suspended and reassigned to patrol units.
Detectives Solomon and Robert Roubal were listed in court documents as prosecution witnesses. Personnel records for detectives Solomon and Travis Menuey were turned over to the defense.
The sergeants and detectives suspended in the Crimes Against Children internal investigation remain employed by the Police Department. Other detectives and supervisors were moved into the unit.