JPD officers investigating three rape reports from weekend

JONESBORO, AR (KAIT) – The Jonesboro Police Department is investigating three rapes reported by officers Sunday.

Investigators said they have no reason to believe the cases reported July 8 at 11:08 a.m., 10:17 p.m. and 11:56 p.m. are connected to each other.

"At this time there is no relationship between the cases," said Sgt. Lyle Waterworth. "The investigation is still ongoing. The suspects in both cases are known to the victims, and both instances occurred within the victim's homes."

Police have not released the names of the suspects or the locations where the incidents occurred so as not to identify the victims.

Sgt. Waterworth said the 11:08 a.m. report of rape has been reclassified, but did not specify the classification.

"The incident was reported, and with the totality of the circumstances, the officers did what was right in taking all the information and setting it at the highest classification, but after review and after being able to set and scrutinize the facts, the classification was lowered," he said.  "That report was really a non-factor in the three."

Sgt. Waterworth said police do not believe the Sunday incidents are connected to the series of sexual assaults the Department was investigating September 2011.

"There is nothing similar on the modus operandi on either of the cases to lead us to believe that they would be tied into the cases."

Jonesboro Police continue to investigate the rash of similar sexual assaults they believe started occurring September 2010 as if they were committed by a serial offender, but thus far no physical evidence links the cases.

Brittany Ewing is a victim advocate with the Northeast Arkansas Women's Crisis Center in Jonesboro.  The Center is a safe haven for people who have suffered domestic violence, sexual assault and rape.

"It's so important to make sure what you're coming forward with is true because it could potentially ruin people's lives, who is being accused, for example, or discredit the agencies that are working with the victims."

Police will not say if the accusers, or the accused, will face charges. Ewing hopes for the sake of future victims, justice runs its course.

"In the slim occasion that false reports are made it could be very, very detrimental to many agencies," Ewing said.

Sergeant Waterworth and Ewing also stress that anyone who believes they are victims of any sexual crime should seek help.

"Try to remember not to change clothes, or even urinate or shower or anything before they go to the hospital so that any evidence that could be collected is still preserved," said Ewing.

"It's not something that they asked for, not something that they deserve, regardless of the situation."

"If they feel like it's a crime, don't hesitate to call and report it," Sgt. Waterworth said.

The Northeast Arkansas Women's Crisis Center Hotline is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year.

The hotline phone number is (870) 933-9449.

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