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Published: Saturday, 9/21/2013 - Updated: 1 year ago

Southview teens held as suspects in park rape

17, 14-year-old charged with Monday incident

BY TAYLOR DUNGJEN
BLADE STAFF WRITER
The bathrooms at Olander Park in Sylvania is where a rape is reported to have occurred Monday. The bathrooms at Olander Park in Sylvania is where a rape is reported to have occurred Monday.
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Two Southview High School students charged with raping a teenage girl at a Sylvania park are being held in the Lucas County juvenile detention center.

The male teens, 17 and 14, are both charged with one count of rape. The 17-year-old is also charged with kidnapping, said Lori Olender, who oversees the juvenile division of the Lucas County Prosecutor’s Office.

Sylvania police officials declined to comment on the incident, but released four pages of a report that was filed Monday afternoon.

According to the report, the alleged incident was reported to police at 3:40 p.m. Monday and happened at Olander Park the same day, sometime between 3:25 and 3:40 p.m.

The alleged victim is a 15-year-old female Southview student.

Brad Rieger, Sylvania School District superintendent, would not comment on the case. He would not say if the suspects have been suspended.

Mr. Rieger sent a brief email Friday afternoon to parents: “There was an incident that occurred off school property earlier this week involving several of our students.

“After a preliminary investigation conducted by the Sylvania Police Department, two South-view students were arrested.

“The police investigation is ongoing. I will provide further information when appropriate.”

The suspects were arrested at school and booked into the detention center on Tuesday, and during a detention hearing Wednesday, they were ordered to remain in custody.

Based on the ages and charges filed against the suspects, prosecutors do not have to certify either as an adult, but Ms. Olender said she is considering filing adult certification paperwork on the 17-year-old but not the 14-year-old.

Neither suspect has a prior criminal history, Ms. Olender said.

Both are scheduled to appear in Lucas County juvenile court on Oct. 1.

A young girl who answered the door at the home of the 14-year-old suspect said her family would not comment.

The mother of the 17-year-old suspect said, “God is greater than all. The truth shall set everything and everybody free.” She declined to comment further.

Erika Buri, interim director for the Olander Park System, said officials have increased park security and surveillance in recent weeks because of prior vandalism incidents. Park employees have been “keeping an eye out for anything suspicious.”

Surveillance cameras are in the park, focused on buildings of high usage, she said. It was unclear Friday how the alleged incident came to light.

After the suspects were arrested, Southview students took to social media, notably Twitter, creating hashtag conversations — keywords strung together with the pound symbol that curates all messages with the same hashtag — to advocate on the suspects’ behalf and disparage the victim.

“Social media can be used for good and can also be used to actually revictimize victims, so that’s where we as a community have to intervene where we see harassment … and change the conversation,” said Katie Hanna, director of the Ohio Alliance to End Sexual Violence.

Mike Horning, an assistant professor of journalism and public relations at Bowling Green State University, said it’s easy for young people to live out their lives on social media and forget that their messages are public.

“They just forget, and social media sort of gives you the facade that you are in your own social network of your peers,” said Mr. Horning, who used to be a high school teacher.

A positive of social media use, he said, is that others can monitor the conversations and have conversations with the posters to say the comments are not acceptable.

Nancy Crandell, a spokesman for the Sylvania School District, said counselors were available for students and classes continued as normal. Students were not briefed about the alleged rape.

Staff writers Nolan Rosenkrans and Natalie Trusso Cafarello contributed to this report.

Contact Taylor Dungjen at tdungjen@theblade.com, or 419-724-6054, or on Twitter @taylordungjen.



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