E-mail circulating about rapes near arena 'untrue,' police say

WICHITA — Wichita police today said a report circulating on local blogs and e-mails about a series of rapes near Intrust Bank Arena is filled with misinformation and should be disregarded.

A 26-year-old woman reported being sexually assaulted near Douglas and St. Francis shortly before 2 p.m. on Dec. 15, Lt. Troy Livingston said.

She told police she was approached from behind in the 100 block of North St. Francis, dragged into a nearby alley and raped. That case remains under investigation.

But the e-mail claims "this is the 3rd case of this happening in the past 2 weeks, all within broad daylight in the middle of the afternoon (per police reports)."

That, Livingston said, "is just untrue."

Livingston, who heads the sex crimes unit, said he has reviewed every rape or sexual assault case in the past month and found no other cases in the arena/Old Town area.

He has met with his detectives to see if any other cases of rape or sexual assault have been reported, and they're reviewing old reports going back six months or more to look for trends. But none have emerged.

"Any kind of case like this is a concern," Livingston said, but when false information is spread, that can cause "a bit of a panic."

He has seen the false reports appear on local blogs and in e-mails being circulated, Livingston said, so he decided to clarify what has been happening.

Anyone who may have seen or heard something linked to the sexual assault reported near Douglas and St. Francis on the afternoon of Dec. 15 should call the sex crimes unit at 316-268-4137 or any police bureau in the city, Livingston said.

The e-mail claiming there has been a series of rapes near the arena states: "keep in mind the new arena will be opening shortly — so negative publicity is the last thing the city needs."

Allegations that the police are covering up the rapes to protect the image of the arena and the city are off the mark, Livingston said.

"My primary focus is to protect the community," he said. "I'd never hide any activity that would put the community in jeopardy."

Police officials have devised security plans for small, medium and large events at the arena, Livingston said.

For more on this story, see Thursday's Eagle.