This is one of those stories that has a slow burn time but eventually it works its way free of the bounds of political correctness into sunlight.
Back about June 2,
Whirled Nuts Daily WorldNet Daily reported this occurrence in Idaho Falls:
WND was the first to report a set of facts about the Twin Falls assault based on the eyewitness account of an 89-year-old grandmother who saw “something funny” going on at the laundry room entrance. It was there, on the afternoon of June 2, that Jolene Payne said she saw a 14-year-old boy filming something through a crack in the laundry room door. She flung open the door and was shocked at what she found. She said she saw two younger boys, ages 10 and 7, both naked, along with the little girl, who the boys had also allegedly stripped of her clothing.
The girl was covered in urine, Payne told WND.
In a very short period of time this story morphed into a report, not by WND, that three Syrian refugee boys, aged 7, 10, and 14, had gang-raped a 5-year-old girl in the laundry room of an apartment building and recored it on a cell phone. Allegedly, one of the boy’s father high-fived his son afterwards. As is so often the case, the story as initially reported was not entirely true. For instance, the boys were not “Syrian”, they were Sudanese and Iraqi. Not sure what relevance that has but the left, particularly Snopes.com, is high-fiving itself that the report is false. We don’t know what happened to the girl. In fact, what the prosecutor is saying speaks volumes about what the authorities don’t want to talk about:
“There were no Syrians involved, there was no knife involved, there was no gang-rape,” Twin Falls County Prosecutor Grant Loebs said.
His comments largely refute several differing accounts about the incident circulating on anti-refugee resettlement and conspiracy websites and anti-Muslim blogs. Most of those accounts claim a group of Syrian refugees sexually assaulted a mentally disabled girl at knife-point June 2 in the laundry facilities of Fawnbrook Apartments, a low-income housing complex in Twin Falls, and that the attack was celebrated by the perpetrators’ families as city officials orchestrated a cover-up.
An incident did occur, Loebs said, and two juveniles have been charged after authorities obtained video shot on a cellphone. But the details of the case don’t match what’s being reported by anti-refugee groups, the prosecutor said.
There were no adults involved, Loebs said, the boys didn’t have a knife, and the incident wasn’t a “gang-rape” instigated by the oldest boy.
“All those involved are juveniles, and the older one didn’t touch the victim in any way,” Loebs said. Only one person is alleged to have touched the victim, said the prosecutor, though he declined to elaborate.
Three boys were involved, but they were not Syrian. The older one didn’t touch her. There was a cellphone video. It wasn’t a “gang rape.” None of this says there was not a sexual assault. The fact that the boys have been charged and remanded to a juvenile detention facility indicates something pretty serious did happen. In short, what we know fits really well with the initial report. Naturally, when confronted with an angry community, the prosecutor starts blaming the complainers. Apparently, they are just a bunch of racist hicks who are manufacturing outrage to prevent the resettlement of Middle Eastern refugees into their Aryan paradise.
I am not a lawyer, but it seems to a layman that an explanation of the crime, itself, would have gone a long way towards tamping down outrage. Just because the criminals are juveniles doesn’t mean that you can’t report of the crime. The only off limits area are the names and addresses of victims and perpetrators.
Be that as it may, the Obama appointed US Attorney for the District of Idaho, Wendy J. Olson, has weighed in. Keep in mind that there is no feasible federal connection to this case other than the weaponized Obama Justice Department attempting to intimidate a free populace:
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.
As Eugene Volokh, writing in the Washington Post, says:
This, it seems to me, goes beyond calling for accuracy (and trying to deter threats, which are indeed criminally punishable). The prosecutor — a prosecutor backed by the might of the federal government — is not just condemning “threatening statements.” She is equally condemning “inflammatory” statements “about the perpetrators or the crime,” as well as “the spread of false information.”
There is no First Amendment exception for “inflammatory” statements; and even false statements about matters of public concern, the Supreme Court has repeatedly held, are an inevitable part of free debate. While deliberate lies about particular people may lead to criminal punishment in some states that have carefully crafted “criminal libel” statutes, that would be under state law, not federal law; and though Idaho still has an old criminal libel law, it is almost never used, and is likely unconstitutionally drafted given modern First Amendment standards. Moreover, honest mistakes on matters of public concern are often constitutionally protected, especially against criminal punishment.
The federal prosecutor surely knows how to speak carefully and precisely about what very limited sorts of speech she can prosecute. Yet she chose to equally threaten federal prosecution not just for the punishable true threats — or for the deliberate lies that may be punished under state but not federal law — but also for an unspecified range of “inflammatory … statements about the perpetrators or the crime itself,” as well as for “the spread of false information” (with no limitation on the spread of deliberate lies). It looks like an attempt to chill constitutionally protected speech through the threat of federal prosecution.
This is not new. This is the way the Obama administration operates. Right after the San Bernardino massacre, Loretta Lynch promised “aggressive action” to combat “anti-Muslim rhetoric.” Another Obama appointed US Attorney, this one a guy named Bill Killian in the Eastern District of Tennessee, has vowed to prosecute anyone saying hurty-hurty things about Muslims.
Nothing creates a mob faster than a dishonest or disingenuous law enforcement apparatus. To a great extent the problem in Idaho Falls is a direct result of a lack of candor on the part of the prosecutor. Name calling of those who have a well-founded concern by the prosecutor is simply not the way America runs and hopefully the electorate will disabuse this Loebs character of his pretensions to royalty.
What is most egregious, however, is a US Attorney directing threats at an entire community in order to shutdown justified outrage.