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2 recant Avenues rape story, police say

SHARE 2 recant Avenues rape story, police say

Two girls who said they were abducted and one of them raped while walking in the Avenues Monday apparently fabricated their story.

Salt Lake Police Sgt. Don Bell said the two 12-year-olds' story simply didn't make sense.

"This (story) just didn't add up from the get-go," he said, adding that because of the rarity of stranger abductions and rapes, the police department looks into such stories very seriously.

Bell said of 360 felony sexual assaults against children in Salt Lake City in 1999, only 17 were by strangers, and of those, only two involved abductions like the one the girls reported.

Bell said he and the sex crimes officers have put other cases aside since the two girls told their story. But he said the holes in the story were too many.

The girls told police they were walking on C Street near Third Avenue about 4 p.m. when a man in a minivan pulled up, showed them a handgun and told them to get in the vehicle. They said the man took them near 18th Avenue, raped one of them and then dropped them off at the Smith's grocery store, 402 E. 6th Ave.

But Bell said the area where the girls said the abduction happened was bright and busy, and yet they could find no witnesses who saw the van or the girls.

He also said the girls couldn't identify the exact location where the abduction and rape took place. Officers canvassed the area but could find no evidence, Bell said.

He said officers explained to the girls the seriousness of their allegations and told them they were having a hard time finding information. About 5:30 p.m. Wednesday, the girls admitted they had made it up, Bell said.

He said the two girls were with friends they weren't supposed to be with later than they were supposed to be out, so they made up the story to avoid being in trouble.

Bell said he didn't know whether any disciplinary action would be taken against the girls. He said he expects a meeting with the girls, their parents and juvenile corrections officers.

"The parents did what any parents would do when they thought their kids were sexually assaulted, and that's what we would want them to do," Bell said of the fact that the parents reported the girls' story. He said he was glad the girls realized the seriousness of their allegations and decided to tell the truth.

E-mail: dsmeath@desnews.com