A 5-year-old girl was sexually assaulted by two boys at an apartment complex in Twin Falls, Idaho -- while a third boy filmed the attack -- and some local residents are charging the police and city officials with covering up the fact that the boys are from Muslim immigrant families from Sudan and Iraq.
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Although not yet confirmed, the alleged perpetrators -- migrant boys ages 14, 10 and 7 -- appear to be from refugee families.
At least three local newspapers have tried to discredit the reports of the assault, focusing instead on a few details that were erroneously reported by bloggers while ignoring or downplaying the broader truth of the story -- that Muslim migrants stripped down and humiliated a vulnerable little girl.
If not for the alert action of an 89-year-old grandmother, who witnessed "something funny" going on in the community's laundry room and immediately put a stop to it, the assault may have taken an even worse turn.
Snopes also posted an article debunking the initial false reports about the boys being "Syrian" Muslims but failed to point out that they were indeed Sudanese and Iraqi Muslims.
In a new twist to the story, the Twin Falls City Council met Monday night and was given an earful by residents who warned last year that exactly this type of criminal behavior was being invited into their community through refugee resettlement.
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"Islam has declared global jihad on us," Vicky Davis of Twin Falls told the council. "And Obama, this administration, is bringing them in as fast as he possibly can."
"They’re on your head, your head, your head, yours, yours," she said as she pointed at each member of the council.
One city councilman shot back with accusations of his own, saying many of the concerned citizens were "white supremacists."
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 Muslim nations. The protesters are often 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.
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The alleged sexual assault occurred on June 2 at Fawnbrook Apartments in Twin Falls. The low-income complex houses at least two immigrant families from Sudan and Iraq.
WND talked to residents of Fawnbrook who sent photographs of women in burqas on the grounds at different times of day.
The photo below is even more revealing, taken by a local activist at the Snake River Juvenile Detention Center in Twin Falls Monday as two of the Sudanese boys were being arraigned following their arrests last Friday.
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Earlier reports that multiple "Syrian" refugees had gang-raped the girl "at knife-point" were inaccurate, however.
"There was no gang rape, there was no Syrian involvement, there were no Syrian refugees involved, there was no knife used, there was no inactivity by the police," Twin Falls County Prosecutor Grant Loebs told the Spokesman Review, a local newspaper. "I'm looking at the Drudge Report headline: 'Syrian Refugees Rape Little Girl at Knifepoint in Idaho' – all false."
But an attack did occur and it was perpetrated by Muslim migrants.
Jolene Payne, an 89-year-old retired nurse who lives at the complex, told WND she was an eye witness to the incident and gave her account to police the day after it happened.
"This happened three weeks ago around 3:30. I was sitting on my porch patio and I looked over and saw this boy taking pictures with a camera," Payne told WND. "He was from Africa or somewhere overseas, standing outside the laundry room taking pictures of kids in the laundry room."
She said she immediately walked over to the laundry room and opened the door.
"I found them in there. I knew there was something going on because the boy (with the phone camera) was acting funny, he was taking pictures but he was telling the two younger boys what to do," she said.
She said the boy filming the assault is 14 and the two who were inside the laundry room with the girl are ages 7 and 10, all of whom she described as having "dark cloudy skin and curly hair."
When she flung open the door she found a disturbing scene.
"The door was cracked enough for him to see the pictures he was taking. I opened that door and I almost fainted when I saw what was going on and I'm a nurse," Payne said. "What a pitiful thing for a poor little girl to go through."
The "little tiny white girl, 5 years old," was standing there with her clothes off, Payne said. The two younger boys were also naked.
"The police came and then the next day detectives came and talked to me alone," Payne said.
"All I know is what I told them. The worst thing was the way they peed all over her clothes and on her too, and I thought that was one of the meanest things I've ever saw done," she added. "And we know those kids must know a lot more than the kids in America of that age. I've never seen any of them do anything like that to little girls, and we have a lot of children around here."
"The little girl had no clothes on. The boys took them off. The littlest boy said 'we didn't do it, he told us to,' pointing to the older boy. They're just kids that have a mother and they moved here from overseas. The women don't even talk any English, some of them do, but others don't. They wear long dresses and long black things on their heads.
'She was scared to death'
There was no knife involved, Payne said.
"I saw two boys and one little girl scared to death," she continued. "I told them boys you better get your clothes on. She was scared to death, crying 'Grandma Jo, Grandma Jo, help me.' I'm not her grandmother but that's what all the kids around here call me."
The little girl's mother is not in good health and her father works during the day, Payne said, adding that the parents are close friends of hers.
Refugees in Twin Falls
Twin Falls has not received any Syrian refugees but it has received 308 refugees from mostly Muslim Iraq and another 161 mostly Muslim Sudanese refugees since 2009, according to the U.S. State Department's Refugee Processing Center.
Idaho has received 57 Syrian refugees since the Syrian civil war broke out in 2011 but all have been resettled in Boise, not Twin Falls, according to the federal database.
The agencies that resettle refugees in Twin Falls said the apartment complex in question has not been used to house refugees. But refugee families don't have to stay in their original living arrangements and could have moved there afterward.
Only two of the three boys have been taken into custody at a juvenile detention center. The 7-year-old who was caught on video actually assaulting the girl has never been arrested, sources tell WND.
The Spokesman Review article accused "anti-Muslim and conspiracy-oriented websites" of reporting a "false story," which was then on social media and "pushed by local anti-refugee activists."
The Idaho Statesman later came out with a similar story, blaming a "false report" on "conspiracy and anti-Muslim websites."
Zeze Rwasama, director of the College of Southern Idaho Refugee Center in Twin Falls, said told the Spokesman Review he was "stunned by the false story."
"We have not resettled Syrians in this area," he said. "Now, it's not because we don’t want to resettle them, I want to make that clear, just because they have not come our way yet. But it is very surprising that people are pushing the Syrians in this area. That shows me that probably there’s a different agenda that I don’t know of. If there is a story to tell, then the story should be all accurate."
'Nobody should be stunned'
But nobody should be "stunned" by a criminal report involving refugees, says Ann Corcoran, who has been following the refugee program for the past nine years with the blog Refugee Resettlement Watch.
While the original report by Infowars, bloggers and other "conspiracy" websites had some inaccuracies, the basic thrust of their reports was true -- that a little white girl was sexually assaulted by Muslim migrants, likely refugees.
"They got the nationality wrong and a couple of other minor points, but it was otherwise spot on," Corcoran said.
"And, there is no doubt that if local residents, criticized by their elected officials, hadn’t pushed this story out to the public, with a few small errors like the nationalities of the perps, the whole case would have been swept under the rug," she said. "Heck, the assault took place almost three weeks ago!"
The reason that stories like this get embellished on social media and the bloggosphere is because the federal government and the contractors it hires to resettle refugees have operated in secrecy for 35 years and the public doesn't know what is going on, Corcoran told WND.
"If they were forthright with us these things wouldn't get embellished. Have them tell us the truth," she said. "If they say this is untruthful then tell us what is the truth, that's one thing. In this community for this to happen, it confirms what the critics have been saying all along. And you have the left saying everything is just sweetness and light and it's all such a good thing so when a bad thing happens they have to keep it secret."
Corcoran also notes that many major media outlets, including the New York Times, rushed out to Idaho to cover the "Islamophobes" who were protesting the arrival of refugees late last year. But those same media outlets are nowhere to be found when a little girl is sexually assaulted by what appears to have been refugee boys.
And it isn't the first such case, either. In 2009 an 8-year-old girl was gang-raped by four Liberian refugee boys ages 9 to 14.
At last week's Twin Falls City Council meeting, the Spokesman Review reported that several local residents spoke out against the resettlement of refugees in their city. They cited the rape story and others warned that "ISIS is here," and, "There’s a lot of pornography on foreigner web pages in Twin Falls." The speakers also objected to the city’s approval of a local mosque, and charged that a Muslim woman had spit on someone at a local grocery store.
Twin Falls council members told residents last week they knew nothing about the alleged rape, and that if the residents know anything about a crime being committed, they should call the police.
At Monday's meeting, however, the mayor admitted that things could have been handled better and with more transparency while still guarding the identities of the juveniles involved.
'Many Muslims' working at Chobani Yogurt
The criminal case against the three immigrant boys in Twin Falls has been sealed by a judge, which is customary in juvenile cases.
Local resident Eric Odell spoke at Monday night's meeting and said he had many Muslims working under him when he was a shift leader at the Chobani Yogurt plant in Twin Falls, and that while most of them were great people, a few were evil or frightening, the Times-News reported.
Odell called for some sort of local refugee vetting system (the federal government has the sole responsibility for vetting refugees) to better "pick the ones who deserve a second chance," according to the Times-News.