The 5-year-old Idaho girl who was sexually assaulted by migrant boys from Sudan and Iraq has become a "prisoner in her own house" since the crime was allegedly committed more than three weeks ago, says a close friend of the family.
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That's because one suspect's family who was evicted from the apartment complex has still not moved out.
The families of the three boys involved – two from Sudan ages 10 and 14 and a third from Iraq age 7 – were all evicted from the Fawnbrook Apartments in Twin Falls last week following publicity about the sexual assault, which occurred June 2 in a laundry room at the complex. The Sudanese families immediately left the complex but the Iraqis still reside there, right next door to the victim.
Twin Falls Mayor Shawn Barigar made a statement at the start of Monday night's city council meeting calling for calm in the community and asking residents to focus on facts and not "emotion." He also blasted Internet news sites for spreading a "narrative" of which he didn't approve, apparently because it was not released by his own police department.
WND was the first to interview Jolene Payne -- an 89-year-old retired nurse who witnessed the assault in progress -- and report a factual account of what happened. The oldest boy, 14, was standing outside the laundry room filming the assault on the girl inside and appeared to be coaching the younger boys, said Payne, who put a stop to the assault and called police.
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The mayor blasted unnamed reporters on the "World Wide Web."
"As tidbits of this not quite truth and suspicion spread, particularly in this world of instant and unchecked communication online, they were woven together into a narrative of falsehood," Barigar said. "And when people who do not live in our community, who are not our friends and neighbors, and who don't share our values and the positive experiences that we have in this community, when these people latch onto that story and they spread it like wildfire across the World Wide Web, a story that is beyond the bounds of reason and based on emotion and fiction, it paints a picture of our community that is not us. It paints one, full of hatred and divisiveness, and it brands us all as individuals and as a community as something we know we are not. This is not us, as a community."
The Coalition of Western States, whose members include attorneys, state legislators, sheriffs and concerned citizens, issued a statement Tuesday night slamming the mayor for his "rambling" and contradictory speech.
"After a pledge of allegiance and the acknowledgment of some local Boy Scouts the Mayor of Twin Falls opened a city council meeting with a rambling speech asking Twin Falls residents to consider the 'victim' while simultaneously insinuating that this immoral crime may have not occurred at all or has been blown out of proportion," the coalition said.
"In a shameful push towards 'acceptance' of certain groups into the community the Mayor, who has never interviewed the victim, or her parents, chose a side, and it is not the side of this young American victim."
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Julie Ruf, a resident of Twin Falls and friend of the family of the little girl who was assaulted, told WND the mayor's statement sounded like it could have been written by someone in the Obama administration.
Watch Twin Falls mayor Shawn Barigar's complete speech at Monday's council meeting:
After the mayor finished speaking, the first resident to stand up and address the council was Ruf. She said the little girl was being forced to stay inside her apartment in the wake of the assault out of fear that the migrant boy would harm her. Ruf said she hoped future decisions about inviting migrants into the community, whether they are refugees or some other form of immigrants, would be made based on safety and security, not economic benefit to area corporations as supported by the Chamber of Commerce.
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The world's largest yogurt plant is operated in Twin Falls by Chobani, and approximately 30 percent of the staff there are foreign refugees, WND previously reported.
"Thank God we come together and we are emotional about this type issue. What type of people would we be if we were not emotional about the rape of a small child?" Ruf told the mayor and council.
"I would advise, again, to consider in any decisions made, forthcoming, that we do, that you do, together agree, that the security of this community be held higher than any other desire for economic gain or otherwise," she added. "That the security of this community be the priority in your mind as you make decisions about who is and who is not going to be sought after and brought into this community, no matter what group they are from."
Girl 'afraid to leave house'
Then she dropped the bombshell about the 5-year-old victim.
"I'd like to be a little personal. There is a little person, who is afraid to go out of her house, who wears two pairs of underpants to protect herself now, and she can't go out of her house because her perpetrator is still living next door," Ruf said. "So who has become the prisoner, after being dragged and attacked and violated? Who has become the prisoner? It is the family who can't afford to move because of poverty. And I think we all know that poor people in our community are the primary victims of crime. And it remains true in this case."
The two older boys from Sudan were released from a juvenile detention center last Tuesday after less than a week of detainment. The 7-year-old Iraqi boy was never arrested due to his age.
Watch Twin Falls resident Julie Ruf's speech before the city council:
Ruf said a secondary offense is committed "when someone is not safe to go out of their house because their perpetrator remains their neighbor."
She said Idaho's current legal system appears to be set up to protect the perpetrators of juvenile on juvenile crimes more than the victims.
"Perhaps we need to amend how we do things in order to protect under-age people when they are violated by a peer," she said. "And instead of looking at two and three years as having a big significance, look at the actions that were perpetrated by the offender. We are responsible to keep her safe. She does not have the power to do that. I don't have the power to do that. I can only petition my city, and my police department, to do that.
"I know they have received an eviction notice among other things and they are still there. And this little boy is still in the neighborhood playing with all the other children while his victim is held inside her apartment to be safe. She is trying to recover. How can she?"
Mayor Barigar's comments instructing the community to calm down and not allow their emotions to get involved were misplaced, in Ruf's opinion.
"People were getting emotional and letting outsiders paint us as divisive and 'that's not who we are,' he reiterated that several times. 'Who we are,'" Ruf said.
President Obama has made similar statements after terrorist attacks on San Bernardino and Orlando, saying that to blame an entire religion, Islam, for the crimes of a "tiny minority" is "not who we are as a nation."
Ruf says the mayor's comments ignore a larger reality.
"The real reason (for the divisiveness) is the way the City Council addressed the public at a meeting two weeks ago, because they were so rude and so disrespectful, not because they were emotional about the rape of a 5 year old girl because you should be emotional about that," Ruf said. "If not you got something wrong with you."
One member of the council Insinuated that all those against the importation of Third World refugees into Idaho were "white supremacists."
"Rhetoric like that, it's very inappropriate to the office. That's the feedback I'm getting from people in Twin Falls," Ruf said. "No one is chastising the citizens for saying what is going on in this town, I'm only hearing negative comments about the city council."
But Ruf said all of the council members have not been disrespectful of the public concerns about the influx of foreign refugees.
"I would say the three ladies that are on the council have not taken a public stand on this issue. So the jury is still out on them. They did seem to be emotionally moved when I talked about the little girl barricaded in her own home," Ruf said. "So I would hope that this means these ladies are beginning to rally for their community, because God knows this community needs these women to stand up right now on behalf of girls and young women in this state."
Ruf said the state has offered to provide counseling for the 5-year-old victim of the sexual assault, which occurred on June 2 and only came to public light after activists began circulating information, some of which turned out to be false, during the week of June 13. While it was not "Syrian" refugees as first thought and while the assault was not a "gang rape" carried out at "knifepoint," the girl was assaulted by Muslim migrants, most likely refugees, and at least one of the boys inappropriately touched the girl after they stripped her of her clothing and urinated on her.
"Counseling has been made available but the family is going to be very choosy to make sure they get the right kind of care," Ruf told WND in a phone conversation Tuesday while in the same room with the girl's parents. "They may need to go out of town."
Federal prosecutor walks back comments
Meanwhile, U.S. Attorney Wendy J. Olson issued a new statement clarifying and walking back her earlier statement from Friday, which was taken by many as a threat to prosecute Idahoans who "spread false or inflammatory information about the perpetrators and the crime itself."
Olson came under intense criticism by several constitutional lawyers in an article by WND Monday in which she was accused of using her office to chill free speech that is protected by the First Amendment.
Olson's new statement Tuesday is as follows:
"Many in the press, public and online bloggers are misinterpreting the statement I issued on Friday, June 24, 2016, in support of the five-year-old victim of an assault in Twin Falls, Idaho, and in support of the law enforcement authorities there who are prosecuting the case. The statement was not intended to and does not threaten to arrest or prosecute anyone for First Amendment protected speech.
"I issued the statement because public officials in Twin Falls have received threats. Certain threatening or harassing communications may violate federal law and will be investigated. I am also concerned that intentionally false and inflammatory rumors are creating an unsafe environment in Twin Falls. In this case, it appears that the threats have resulted from false and inflammatory information spread about this crime, often times by those from outside of the community. I encourage all to be patient while the juvenile justice system works. I also encourage all to support this victim and her family."
Read previous WND coverage of the Twin Falls migrant assault on a young girl:
- Explosive new twist in Idaho sex assault case
- Idaho 'rape': Obama prosecutor 'silencing Americans with threats of arrest'
- Muslim child sex assault suspects back on streets of Idaho
- Cops, media hide Idaho girl's sex assault by Muslim migrants
Twin Falls is one of more than a dozen "pockets of resistance" across the U.S. where residents are protesting the arrival of United Nations-approved "refugees" from Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan, Somalia, Sudan and other Shariah-compliant areas of the world. The protests have typically been met with smaller counter-protests that attempt to brand them as "Islamophobes" or "racist."
Hundreds rallied in Twin Falls last fall against the expected arrival of more Muslim refugees from the Middle East. And residents have been calling for greater transparency from the College of Southern Idaho, which is resettling refugees in the area for the federal government through the U.S. Committee for Refugees and Immigrants, one of nine volunteer agencies or VOLAGs.
The College of Southern Idaho has said it did not resettle the Sudanese or Iraqi families in Twin Falls but that they could have been resettled in another area and moved to Idaho in what's called a "secondary migration."
The Obama administration has expanded the U.S. refugee resettlement program from a ceiling of 70,000 refugees in 2015 to 85,000 in fiscal 2016 and 100,000 in 2017, which begins Oct. 1. The expanded refugee influx has been fully funded and fully supported by the GOP-dominated Congress.