News that a young girl was allegedly raped at knifepoint by three Syrian refugees in Twin Falls, Idaho, appear to be false, and largely perpetuated by conservative media outlets.
As Jezebel reported, a range of right-wing news sites ran with the erroneous report with the apparent goal of inciting outrage at Muslims and migrants.
"There is a small group of people in Twin Falls County whose life goal is to eliminate refugees, and thus far they have not been constrained by the truth," Twin Falls County prosecutor Grant Loebs said Monday, according to the Idaho Statesman.
On June 2, according to InfoWars, "three Syrian youths aged 8, 10 and 13" allegedly forced a girl to the laundry room of the Fawnbrook apartment complex where, threatening her with a knife, they removed her clothes, raped her and peed on her at the oldest boy's direction. After the girl's mother called the police, officers allegedly took two and a half hours to show up.
No one at the Twin Falls police department was immediately available for comment. But according to a statement by chief Craig Kingsbury, the above version of events is far from accurate.
His statement indicated that the victim's mother called the police saying some of Fawnbrook's boys had urinated on her daughter, calling back shortly thereafter to clarify that the incident was sexual assault. Paramedics and police then responded "in a timely manner." No knife was involved. Contrary to certain reports, the police did arrest the suspects and have booked two at a local juvenile detention center. Reports that the boys' father celebrated the assault were also unsubstantiated.
The three boys, who are 7, 10 and 14, are believed to be from Sudan and Iraq, but the police don't yet know if they are refugees. The prosecutor did confirm that, although one boy allegedly touched the 5-year-old victim, no gang-rape occurred, contrary to initial reports.
Cue an adjustment to previous coverage. World Net Daily deleted its initial report, replacing it with an article highlighting local outrage at "Muslim migrants" resettled in Twin Falls, which has been described as "one of more than a dozen 'pockets of resistance'" to resettlement that exist nationwide. A city councilman called comments these "concerned citizens" made "white supremacist" in their tone at a meeting in February.
Right-wing media took off with a narrative that appealed to them before checking the facts, relying instead on anecdotal evidence from members of a community that wants refugees out. It told the story it wanted to hear, rather than the one that happened.