A story out of Twin Falls, Idaho, grabbed headlines last week. According to online reports, a 5-year-old girl was raped by a group of Syrian refugees at knifepoint. The details on many right-wing blogs and message boards were even more graphic and disturbing, and many were legitimately shocked, disgusted, and outraged.
Here’s the problem: According to the Twin Falls prosecutor, the story’s not true and is most likely being spread by anti-Islamic, anti-refugee, right-wing extremists in the area, report the Idaho Statesman.
Twin Falls, Idaho county prosecutor Grant Loebs said on Monday that the horrific story being shared and embellished online is fundamentally incorrect, and it’s being spread by “a small group of people in Twin Falls County whose life goal is to eliminate refugees, and thus far they have not been constrained by the truth.”
According to the prosecutor, no Syrian refugees were involved in the gang rape of a child. In fact, no gang rape occurred. There were no knives involved in the incident (and there was an incident involving a group of children whose names have not been released), and that some people are simply using what happened to incite bigotry for their own personal purposes.
“There were no Syrians involved, there was no knife involved, there was no gang-rape.”
According to right-wing online message boards, the story goes something like this: A group of late-teen or young adult male Syrian refugees gang-raped a mentally disabled 5-year-old at knifepoint on June 2. The attack reportedly took place in the laundry room of a low-income Twin Falls, Idaho, housing complex, Fawnbrook Apartments.
Details of what allegedly happened vary depending on what conspiracy message board, anti-Muslim blog, or anti-Syrian refugee website is telling the story, but most versions indicate that the horrific attack was “celebrated” by the families of the Syrian refugees who allegedly took part and then covered up by city officials to prevent a scandal.
It’s a truly disgusting accounting, and it’s not surprising that it infuriated so many people, including people in the Twin Falls, Idaho, area, people around the world, and (most notably) people opposed to the resettlement of Syrian refugees in the United States.
The only thing more disgusting than the story being told about Syrian refugees in Twin Falls is the idea that people would make up such horrible things about a 5-year-old girl just to keep Syrian refugees from being resettled in the U.S.
On Monday, the prosecutor and local investigators worked to dismiss the claims of the anti-Syrian refugee groups and to clarify what actually did happen in Twin Falls, Idaho (while protecting the privacy rights of the victim and other minors involved). According to authorities, a 5-year-old was involved in an “incident,” something they discovered when a cellphone video was obtained by law enforcement. Two juveniles have been charged in connection with the crime.
The criminal cases against the juveniles are sealed, as is customary in juvenile cases. Loebs did comment sparsely on the incident in order to address the false claims being made by the anti-Syrian refugee community, but he didn’t go into great detail because of the nature of the case.
According to authorities, three juvenile boys allegedly sexually victimized a 5-year-old girl. The boys involved were ages 7, 10, and 14. The boys involved are from the Middle East — they are natives of Iraq and Sudan. None of them are Syrian refugees. No gang rape occurred in Twin Falls, Idaho. Only one of the boys involved is believed to have touched the young girl in any way, and it wasn’t the oldest one. (Conspiracy sites catering to the anti-Syrian refugee crowd have said that the Twin Falls incident was a gang rape incited by the oldest perpetrator.)
“All those involved are juveniles, and the older one didn’t touch the victim in any way.”
According to Loebs, there were no adults involved in the incident, there was no knife or other weapons involved, and all of the boys in question are currently being held in a juvenile detention facility. It is estimated that the young boys involved in the crime have been in the United States less than two years, and their status as refugees was not immediately known.
There is absolutely no indication that, after the incident, the parents of the young boys celebrated their attack on the young girl as so many conspiracy and anti-Syrian refugee websites have related in connection with the Twin Falls, Idaho, incident.
Prosecutors received a report from Twin Falls police last Thursday regarding the so-called Syrian refugee gang rape. Despite online allegations, which were repeated and shared on such right-wing conspiracy sites as Drudge Report and Godlike Productions, that police covered up or didn’t investigate the allegations, Loebs says that law enforcement investigated the situation thoroughly and properly.
The local Twin Falls police chief said that when it came to handling the situation, the victim’s safety and health were the primary concern, followed by apprehending the suspects. According to Twin Falls, Idaho, officials, religious beliefs and ethnicity aren’t a factor in rendering aid or justice.
Some online versions of the story indicate that law enforcement took over two hours to respond, and the Twin Falls police chief addressed that as well.
“Simply, that just is not true. The Twin Falls Police Department, the Magic Valley Paramedics, even the Twin Falls County Sheriff’s Office, responded in due time.”
According to the police chief, that original report of the Twin Falls incident came in as “something a lot less serious than a sexual assault or lewd and lascivious conduct.”
Prosecutor Loebs added that sex cases involving children are quite common and inferred that he believes this particular incident in Twin Falls is being exploited by the local anti-Syrian refugee crowd to further their political agenda without regard for the victim.
Despite claims from many of those who oppose the resettlement of Syrian refugees in the Twin Falls, Idaho, area, only a handful of Syrian people live in Twin Falls County and not a single one of them was settled in Twin Falls through Idaho Refugee programs.
“There have been periodic website postings about hundreds of Syrians coming to Idaho that have all proven to be false in the past, and this is probably just one of those attempts to try and stir up hatred and bigotry.”
The moral of the Syrian refugee gang rape story out of Twin Falls, Idaho, seems to be not to believe everything you read on the internet and to always consider the source.
[Image via Shutterstock]