Alleged Sexual Assault Has Some West U. Residents Worried, Some Skeptical
Was a 13-year-old girl sexually assaulted right outside West U. city limits in early February? That question is heavy on the minds of many West U. residents, some who are panicking and concerned for the safety of their own children and some who are convinced that nothing happened.
The alleged sexual assault was reported to have occurred in the 3000 block of Drake near Auden between 7 p.m. and 8 p.m. Feb. 8. The Houston Police Department is investigating the allegations, and neither the West U. Police Department nor the Southside Place Police Department is involved.
At this point, HPD representatives say the investigation is ongoing, although more information could be available by tomorrow. There are apparently several different versions of what happened that night, and several different descriptions of the alleged suspect.
“We are still investigating various accounts of how the incident transpired,” said an HPD spokesman. “But as of right now, we are taking the allegations very seriously, like we would any victim that came forward. But there are varying accounts of the specifics. Investigators are trying to figure how it went down before they try to proceed with investigating a suspect. Once you are on this side (police department), you have to take every allegation that is made seriously.”
Many West U. and Southside Place residents were made aware of the allegations via an e-mail from Southside Police Chief Lonnie Bernhardt. The e-mail identified the victim as a West U. resident, which was false information that Bernhardt says he did not realize was put in the e-mail.
“I never said it was a West U. resident – I merely put out an informational e-mail for our residents to kind of let them know, kind of a heads-up,” said Bernhardt, who added that he intended for the e-mail to only be sent to Southside Place residents. The e-mail circulated throughout Southside Place and West U. and various rumors had some believing a rape and abduction of a 13-year-old West U. resident occurred inside the city.
Enough information was made available to West U. residents that some were able to identify the victim and at least one person made contact with the 13-year-old’s parents, according to several West U. residents.
Bernhardt says the information in his e-mail was gathered from a report from HPD as well as from other sources.
“It’s a Houston case,” said Bernhardt. “I would not want to think I jeopardized a Houston case by something that was said or done by us over here.” He added that he does not regret sending the e-mail.
Some residents are convinced that the allegations are false.
“There continues to be a distressing absence of facts, and it is becoming increasingly apparent that there is more to this story,” said a West U. resident who asked not to be identified. “The sooner the air is cleared, families and the community can move on.”