On what was to be the first day of his trial yesterday, city prosecutors abruptly dropped a rape case against a Baltimore police officer - two months after a city jury acquitted him of another set of rape charges.
Prosecutors yesterday declined to give a reason for the move. Officer Jemini Jones, 29, said in an interview afterward that the two cases had "weighed heavy on my heart" and that he was relieved they were over.
Both accusers said Jones coerced them into having sex with him in exchange for their freedom, one in October 2005 and the other in December 2005. Jones was part of the Southwestern District "flex squad" - an aggressive, plain-clothes group of narcotics officers that was disbanded in January 2006 amid the rape investigations.
The FBI and the Baltimore Police Department are still investigating the squad, agency representatives said yesterday - probes that could include allegations of cell phone and drug theft, planting of evidence and making false arrests.
Kenneth W. Ravenell, an attorney for the two women who accused Jones of rape, said the women were "not pleased" with the outcome of the city cases and were "hopeful that the federal government will pursue this matter."
The Sun does not identify people who have said they are the victims of sex crimes.
As she stood before Circuit Judge Allen L. Schwait yesterday, Assistant State's Attorney JoAnne Stanton, head of the sex crimes unit, said she did not want to say why she was dropping charges.
Later, a spokeswoman for the state's attorney's office also declined to give a reason, citing the other investigations involving Jones.
Yesterday morning Jones rejected a plea deal that would have involved no prison time and three years of probation, according to his defense attorney.
Jones also has another pending criminal matter scheduled for trial in two weeks. He is accused of illegally carrying a handgun after being stripped of police powers because of the rape allegations. He remains suspended without pay. Jones said he is doing mortgage work but hopes to soon return to the police force.
Yesterday, giving his first interview since the rape allegations arose, Jones said that his relief was outweighed by anger that he had been prosecuted in the first place.
He said he felt betrayed by a city that he had tried to protect and by police leaders who had "turned their backs on me and turned their backs on my unit."
He said his squad had been "one of the best out there," making the most impact on high-crime neighborhoods and making scores of arrests. Jones said he alone had made more than 10,000 arrests since joining the force in March 2000.
The rape allegations unraveled hundreds of cases built by the Southwestern flex officers - even freeing one defendant who later was indicted on murder charges.
"I'm furious," Jones said about prosecutors dropping 400 criminal cases associated with the squad. "You can't imagine how I feel."
Jones and his attorney, Janice L. Bledsoe, said both rape cases were devoid of evidence and fell apart because the accusers gave varying stories.
The case dropped yesterday stemmed from an Oct. 24, 2005, incident when Jones and other flex officers searched the East Baltimore apartment of a man they had been investigating for marijuana distribution.
The man's 30-year-old girlfriend said that she was there alone and that one officer told her she "should give them what they want" after the officers found an unloaded handgun and suspected marijuana in the apartment.
Prosecutors said in a statement last year that "Jones informed her that she would have to engage in various sexual activities in order to avoid arrest."
In the other case, from a Dec. 27, 2005, incident, Jones and two other flex officers spotted a 22-year-old woman with marijuana in a parked car, handcuffed her and brought her to the Southwestern station house. The woman said that, to avoid being charged with drug possession and at Jones' urging, she had sex with him in the flex squad's office.
Ravenell said yesterday that he is convinced that Jones "committed the crimes with which he was charged." The women remain optimistic about their civil cases - and the FBI investigation, he said.
That investigation, and the police internal probe, could include more than rape allegations.
In an application to search the station house to investigate the Dec. 27 incident, Baltimore drug detectives wrote that flex squad officers had been stealing drugs and cell phones from people they had arrested, planting evidence and making false arrests.
The search of the station house turned up what appeared to be heroin, cocaine and marijuana in the desk drawers, lockers and personal belongings of some flex squad officers.
Those findings have not resulted in any criminal charges.
Matt Jablow, a spokesman for the Baltimore Police Department, said city prosecutors had asked the department to delay the internal investigation until the rape cases were resolved in court.
Sun reporter Matt Dolan contributed to this article