Lacy Peterson and her husband, Levi, have endured nearly 10 months of public shaming and lies told against their family. Even county prosecutor Grant Loebs has used local media to downplay the savagery of what happened to their little girl last June. That’s when two boys from Iraq stripped the girl naked and molested her while the third boy, from Sudan, filmed the incident.
If it had not been for an alert elderly resident of the low-income apartment complex, there is no telling how much worse the assault may have been.
What never could have been anticipated, however, is the way the family and its supporters have been held up to public ridicule by powerful refugee supporters in Idaho and nationwide. City councilmen, the county prosecutor, police chief and even a retired state Supreme Court justice have all taken turns trashing the conservative media that reported on the assault as well as those who have come to the aid of the family.
“We have been treated horribly,” Lacy Peterson said. “The way I feel, our case has been pushed under the rug and soon to be forgotten about. Since June we moved into a house that we can hardly even afford. We were totally fine in the apartments until now.
“I don’t think it’s fair that us Americans get to struggle and work hard and live paycheck-to-paycheck and pray to make bills,” she continued. “And the refugees get to have everything handed to them.”
Lacy suffers from a liver disorder and cannot work. Her husband is a cook at a local hotel. They are raising funds through a GoFundMe account to help with medical and legal bills. They’ve hired a local attorney to represent them in a possible civil suit, but that suit can’t be filed until the criminal case is resolved.
The incident, which happened June 2, 2016, at Fawnbrook Apartments, was witnessed by Jolene Payne, an 89-year-old retired nurse who told WND she saw a 14-year-old boy from Sudan filming the assault in progress inside the laundry room. Two other boys, ages 7 and 10 from Iraq, were inside the room with the little girl, all three with their clothes off, while the older boy shot video.
According to the family, that video showed at least one of the Iraqi boys making contact with the girl’s backside with his exposed genitals. The boys also urinated on the girl and in her mouth, according to the witness and victim accounts.
A pre-trial hearing has been set for Monday, March 27.
The trial has been delayed twice and is now set for April 4-6.
A civil suit against the refugee family and possibly the College of Southern Idaho is also being prepared. CSI gets paid as a contractor to resettle refugees into the Twin Falls area, including those from Sudan, Iraq, Afghanistan and the Democratic Republic of Congo.
Julie DeWolfe, a local activist and friend of the family, said the perpetrators have been treated with more kindness and concern than the victim, a special-needs girl from a poor family.
“The rapists still attend public school with the community’s children and live at home with their families,” she said.
“At this point, there is no justice for Jayla. There are fewer people fighting for her because refugee biased political figures have buried the issue, deceived the people through inaccurate statements, and postponed proceedings,” DeWolfe added.
A March 27 court hearing will determine “if this case gets resolved or proceeding to trial,” said Mark Guerry, the attorney representing the family in potential civil proceedings.
“The cynical side of me suspects nobody is anxious to resolve this case or for this case to get back on the public radar and media radar, because they know they are going to have to endure a lot of questions and local interest, and especially with the dissatisfaction when my clients, the parents, and all their supporters who have supported Levi and Lacy from the beginning,” Guerry said. “They are the ones who have pushed hard for prosecutions. They’ve been there and done everything they could to get their side of the case out.”
Guerry said he suspects the local prosecutor, Grant Loebs, “would really wish this case would fall below the radar and stay there. The Twin Falls officials and he in particular have not liked the intense scrutiny that has been given this case, and he has said from the beginning that the victim’s family and their supporters have really exaggerated what happened.”
Loebs has done more to defend the Muslim refugees caught on video rather than vigorously defending the five-year old American victim and her family.