United States Attorney Wendy J. Olson of Idaho is threatening her fellow citizens with federal prosecution should they seek to spread “false or inflammatory information” about the three male Muslim minors who suspected of raping a five-year-old special needs girl. The accused boys are ages 14, 10, and 7 years. The boys are alleged to have assaulted the girl at an apartment complex laundry room, stripping and sexually assaulting her. In addition, they are alleged to have urinated on her.
The 14-year-old is accused of taking pictures of the savagery. Fortunately, an 89-year-old woman was able to intervene and prevent any escalation. Jolene Payne, a retired nurse, saw from her apartment a disturbance at about 3:30 p.m. on the day of the assault. When she went to investigate, she found the 15-year-old male recording the scene with his phone while coaching the two other boys. She found a shocking scene, in which the naked five-year-old white girl was being assaulted by two boys who were also naked.
Initial reports about the incident erroneously said that the immigrants were Syrian and had used knives to coerce the girl. An article by the local Spokesman Review newspaper said “anti-Muslim and conspiracy-oriented websites” had reported a “false story” that on social media was “pushed by local anti-refugee activists.” The Idaho Statesman published a similar story and blamed the “false report” on “conspiracy and anti-Muslim websites.”
Zeze Rwasama, who directs the College of Southern Idaho Refugee Center in Twin Falls, told the Spokesman Review he was “stunned by the false story.” He said, “We have not resettled Syrians in this area.” He added, “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 whole story should be accurate.”
Some members of the community have criticized the federal government for having sent Muslim refugees to their city. There are reports that the federal government has settled at least 300 people in Twin Falls, a city of about 44,000.
At a Twin Falls City Council meeting, members of the council heard from citizens who had predicted criminal behavior would ensue when migrants were invited into the community. “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.” Pointing to each member of the council, Davis said, “They’re on your head, your head, your head, yours, yours.” A councilman retorted that the concerned citizens were “white supremacists.”
In response to local citizens’ concerns, Olson issued a statement:
“The United States Attorney’s Office extends its support to the five-year-old victim of assault, and her family, at the Fawnbrook Apartments in Twin Falls. The United States Attorney’s Office further encourages community members in Twin Falls and throughout Idaho to remain calm and supportive, to pay close attention to the facts that have been released by law enforcement and the prosecuting attorney, and to avoid spreading false rumors and inaccuracies.”
“Grant Loebs is an experienced prosecutor, and Chief Craig Kingsbury is an experienced law enforcement officer. They are moving fairly and thoughtfully in this case. As Mr. Loebs and Chief Kingsbury informed the public, the subjects in this case are juveniles, ages 14, 10 and 7. The criminal justice system, whether at the state or federal level, requires that juveniles be afforded a specific process with significant restrictions on the information that can be released. The fact that the subjects are juveniles in no way lessens the harm to or impact on the victim and her family. The spread of false information or inflammatory or threatening statements about the perpetrators or the crime itself reduces public safety and may violate federal law. We have seen time and again that the spread of falsehoods about refugees divides our communities. I urge all citizens and residents to allow Mr. Loebs and Chief Kingsbury and their teams to do their jobs.”
The two older boys are believed to be Sudanese, while the youngest is from Iraq. The federal government has yet to comment on their migrant status beyond the fact that they entered the country over the last two years. It has not been reported whether they came as refugees. The three boys have since been released from an Idaho detention center into the care of their families.
This is not the first attempt of Obama’s administration to try and silence free speech. U.S. Attorney, Loretta Lynch, discussed her growing fear of speech critical of Islam at a Muslim Advocacy dinner. In December 2015, Lynch told her Muslim listeners that she would take “aggressive action” against Americans who criticize Muslims with speech that “edges towards violence.” Lynch’s threat was made just one day after two Muslims in San Bernardino, California, slaughtered 14 Americans and wounded another 22. At the dinner, Lynch expressed concerns about “the incredibly disturbing rise of anti-Muslim rhetoric,” adding that it is “my greatest fear.” She later tried to explain away her remarks.
U.S. Attorney Olson has also tried to back away from her earlier statement. On June 28, local media reported on her latest missive: “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.”
Observing the uproar was Washington Post reporter Eugene Volokh, who wrote: “It seems to me that the original statement — ‘The spread of false information or inflammatory or threatening statements about the perpetrators or the crime itself reduces public safety and may violate federal law’ — was indeed correctly interpreted as suggesting that the spread of false information or inflammatory statements, and not just threatening statements, ‘may violate federal law.’”