Times News, Snopes.com Call Foul on Report of Islam Link to Twin Falls Sexual Assault 

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Despite claims made by a number of anti-refugee websites, an alleged gang rape of a disabled minor by Syrian refugees in Twin Falls didn't happen.

The false reports of an alleged sexual assault included claims that three boys from refugee families attacked the child at a low-income apartment complex. Now, the Twin Falls Times-News, Twin Falls County Prosecutor Grant Loebs and fact-checking website Snopes.com have debunked those claims.

Loebs confirmed June 20 that an incident took place at the apartment complex—but it was not a gang rape at knife-point involving "recent refugees" nor was it in any way connected to the College of Southern Idaho Refugee Center. Loebs took aim at those who perpetuated rumors of a refugee connection.

"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," he said.

The false reports originated with a dispatch from KMVT Twin Falls on June 7, which confirmed "a reported sexual assault that possibly occurred near the Fawnbrook Apartments [was] being investigated by the Twin Falls Police Department." Police at the time weren't commenting on online chatter about the incident.

It didn't take long for the blogosphere to spin the KMVT report beyond recognition, including details about the assault taking place at knife-point and committed by Syrian refugees who gang raped and urinated on a child. Local opponents of refugee resettlement have turned to the Twin Falls City Council, calling on it to release more information about the assault. 

The incident caught the attention of fact-checking website Snopes.com, which also took a crack at shutting down the rumor mill. It determined the rumor was "Mostly False:"

"The incident was not a rape, the girl was not murdered, the boys were not Syrian, there's no indication a knife was produced, and no 'language barrier' prevented police from detaining two boys involved," wrote Snopes.com fact-checker Kim LaCapria.

Twin Falls County has become a hotbed of anti-refugee resettlement sentiment because of the CSI Refugee Center, which has drawn the ire of some locals and garnered attention from national anti-refugee news sites.

In July 2015, the self-styled Committee to End the CSI Refugee Center called on the college to distance itself from the center and, in November, pro- and anti-refugee demonstrators squared off over the issue outside the Idaho Statehouse. Meanwhile, far-right online media organization American Thinker, caught wind of the movement, stoking fears about a Muslim takeover of the Idaho city.
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