Crime

Families of boys implicated in Twin Falls sex assault evicted

Twin Falls City Councilman Chris Talkington, seated, talks to citizen Terrence Edwards on Monday as Edwards hands copies of the U.S. Constitution to the council. “The Muslim influence is not just a religion — it’s a theocracy,” Edwards said. Councilwoman Nikki Boyd, left, and Vice Mayor Suzanne Hawkins listen.
Twin Falls City Councilman Chris Talkington, seated, talks to citizen Terrence Edwards on Monday as Edwards hands copies of the U.S. Constitution to the council. “The Muslim influence is not just a religion — it’s a theocracy,” Edwards said. Councilwoman Nikki Boyd, left, and Vice Mayor Suzanne Hawkins listen. Times-News

An apartment complex in Twin Falls is evicting the families of the three boys implicated in a sexual assault against a 5-year-old girl at the complex.

“With the police investigation now largely complete, acting in our capacity as property managers, we have served the legally required notifications to terminate the tenancy of those households who the police have identified as responsible for the criminal acts,” Jeffrey Passadore, president of Cambridge Real Estate Services, wrote in a letter to the tenants of Fawnbrook Apartments.

A June 2 assault prompted some people to go on social media and report that a group of Syrian refugees gang-raped the girl. Prosecutors and police then said an incident did occur involving the 5-year old and three older boys, whose families are from Sudan and Iraq. Authorities said it did not involve Syrians and was not a gang rape, though one of the boys touched the girl.

[Story: Distorted Idaho report recalls real attack for Boise Syrian refugee.]

Passadore wrote that “events of recent days have focused our collective attention on the complexities of living in a culturally diverse society. When management was first notified in broad terms of the truly horrific events of earlier this month, we immediately offered our full support and cooperation to local law enforcement.”

Passadore urged people to support the victim’s family and to “focus on bringing about the positive changes necessary so that we might all contribute to a stronger community for our shared future.”

The three boys are ages 7, 10, and 14. The two older boys were taken into custody late last week. Two of the boys were from the Sudanese family, one from the Iraqi one.

Officials think the boys have been in the United States fewer than two years. Police have said they are not sure whether the families are refugees.

Authorities have released few details of the incident. The case is sealed because they are juveniles.

Several residents addressed the Twin Falls City Council on June 13, before police had taken anyone into custody, questioning why no information had been released and asking whether local officials were trying to cover it up. The story was picked up by a number of anti-refugee resettlement and anti-Muslim blogs, with some erroneously saying the girl was held at knife point or that one father high-fived the boys after the attack. Police and prosecutors said those details were not true.

News last year that Syrians fleeing a yearslong civil war could be among about 300 refugees to be resettled in Twin Falls touched off an anti-refugee movement that sought to close the refugee resettlement office at the College of Southern Idaho. The ballot measure failed earlier this spring when organizers couldn’t gather enough signatures.

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