Police address rape rumors as reward increased

Published 11:00 pm Thursday, April 5, 2012

Officials spoke out Thursday in an attempt to quash rumors of more sexual assaults in Troy.

Rumors are running rampant, especially on social networking sites, that there have been more sexual assaults in Troy since the March 26 attacks at Hunter’s Mountain Mobile Estates.

Both the Troy Police Department and the Troy University Police Department are adamant that there have been no additional assaults reported to them.

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“Absolutely not,” said Sgt. Benny Scarbrough with the Troy Police Department.

University Police Chief John McCall sent a message to university students Thursday morning addressing the issue.

“These social media posts are generating a large number of calls to police in Troy, and are beginning to impede the investigation of two reported off-campus sexual assaults and an on-campus armed robbery,” McCall wrote.

Two women both reported sexual assaults at Hunter’s Mountain on March 26 and Troy Police are continuing to “aggressively” follow up on leads in search of their assailant. University Police are also looking for an armed robber who confronted a male student near the Math and Science Complex on campus on April 1.

“While it is crucial to police investigators that legitimate, factual information be passed along to them by the public, the spread of rumors only serves to slow down the investigation process,” McCall wrote. “Ultimately, it can derail the arrest and conviction of criminals. Please do not spread rumors.”

With a little urging from state Sen. Bryan Taylor, the governor’s office is now contributing $5,000 to the reward being offered for information leading to the arrest and conviction of the man responsible for the attacks. The total reward is now $25,000.

“It’s one of those things where, as a senator, you try to step back and say, ‘when should I get involved,’” Taylor said. “I’d spoken to the mayor and I knew the police in Troy had the situation well under control, but I was moved when a constituent whose daughter is a student at Troy called me and shared that perspective with me.”

“We believe someone has information that can help put a predator behind bars,” Gov. Robert Bentley said. “We are urging anyone with information to please come forward and provide a tip for investigators. Your information is needed to provide justice for the victims and peace of mind for the community.”

In the sexual assault cases, police are looking for a black man between 40 and 50 years old who is about 6 feet tall and weighs about 250 pounds. He has a close haircut and was wearing a black or dark blue shirt and loose-fitting black or blue jeans.

Individuals with tips or information about the sexual assaults should call the Troy Police Department at 566-0500, or the Secret Witness Line at 566-5555.

In the April 1 armed robbery case at Troy University, the student described the robber as a black male in his early 20s wearing a black hoodie and a scarf over his face. The suspect is about 6-feet tall and weighs about 170 pounds.

Anyone with information concerning the robbery should call 670-3215 during the day and 670-1999 after hours.