DECATUR — Police say there is no truth to rumors, widely circulated on social media, that children were found locked in a storage shed during a sexual abuse investigation.
Deputy Chief Shane Brandel also denied rumors that multiple individuals are involved in the investigation and urged the public to stop spreading misinformation.
Police are investigating a complaint reported May 20 by a person who alleged sexual assault that occurred over 10 years ago "by a subject known to them," Brandel said. As part of the investigation, search warrants were served at multiple locations.
"At this time, no other individuals have been named or identified as being involved in this allegation or other criminal misconduct," said Brandel, who is set to become interim chief after the retirement of Chief Jim Getz at the end of this month. "This case is complex and involves significant man-hours to ensure a thorough investigation."
Posts circulating on social media in recent days have asserted that the FBI is investigating a sexual abuse case involving multiple Decatur-area residents and that authorities found evidence of children being molested in a storage shed.
"These types of rumors are dangerous and can shatter lives and reputations, and potentially jeopardize the investigation," Brandel said.
Brandel said the department typically does not comment on sexual abuse or sexual assault cases because doing so can further traumatize victims and interfere with investigations. In this case, he said, police were providing the information because the case has become a focus of rumors and false information "in the larger public realm."
Read Brandel's full statement below:
On 5/20/2021, the Decatur Police Department received a complaint from an individual alleging sexual assault that had occurred over 10 years ago by a subject known to them. The case was assigned to a detective and an investigation into the allegations immediately commenced. The investigation has involved serving multiple search warrants at different locations seeking evidence of the allegations. At this time, no other individuals have been named or identified as being involved in this allegation or other criminal misconduct. This case is complex and involves significant man-hours to ensure a thorough investigation. It is unknown how long this investigation will take to complete.
The Decatur Police Department does not typically comment on sexual abuse or sexual assault cases. Doing so can risk further trauma to the victim and also jeopardize the investigation. However, this case has become a focus of rumors and false information within the larger public realm. As such, the department feels it necessary to make a statement. For example, a rumor circulating social media regarding police finding children locked in a storage shed is completely false. In addition, allegations of other citizens of the area being involved in this investigation are false. These types of rumors are dangerous and can shatter lives and reputations, and potentially jeopardize the investigation.
I encourage the public to allow this investigation to continue without such false and dangerous information being spread. The Decatur Police Department will make further comments as this case continues and information is able to be released to the public.
Contact Allison Petty at (217) 421-6986. Follow her on Twitter: @AllisonAPetty