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Woman reports gang rape

Courtney Astolfi • Apr 12, 2014 at 10:30 AM

A Sandusky woman told Erie County deputies this week she was held captive for three days and gang-raped in a camper a few years ago, when Ohio Bike Week was still held at the Erie County Fairgrounds.

Deputies have not yet identified suspects in the case, but they’ve opened a full-fledged investigation.

The 41-year-old woman’s boyfriend reached out to deputies late last week via Facebook, and Detective Dennis Papineau interviewed her Tuesday.

The woman said she visited Bike Week in either 2007 or 2008 and ended up alone in her tent overnight after her friends made other plans. When she hopped in her car the next morning to leave, however, the vehicle wouldn’t start, Papineau said.

An older man approached the woman and offered to help, so she followed him back to a camper near the fairgrounds’ southern entrance to collect some tools.

She, the man and a woman who appeared to be the man’s wife chatted for a few minutes. But soon, the man let three other men into the camper, the woman told deputies.

At that point, the men subdued her, Papineau said.

So began three days of alleged brutality.

All four men repeatedly raped the woman over the subsequent 72 hours. When she fought back, they bound her limbs with zip ties, Papineau said.

When she didn’t listen to the men, they threatened her with force, Papineau said.

One of the woman’s assailants apparently assisted in her escape. On the final day of her captivity, while she was using the restroom, one of the suspects told her if she wanted leave, that moment was her opportunity to do so.

The woman bolted for the back door and ran to a nearby gas station, where she called a friend to pick her up, Papineau said.

The woman never reported her story to a law enforcement agency.

“She said she was scared and didn’t really know what to do,” Papineau said.    During her interview Tuesday, the woman offered descriptions of each of the four men, as well as the interior and exterior of the camper, Papineau said.

Because of the amount of time that has elapsed since the alleged incident, investigators must now begin checking relevant records and tracking down leads.

Detectives are also cross-checking the case with any other similar crimes, Papineau said.

Detectives will conduct additional interviews with the woman in an attempt to glean more details from her.

One inconsistency did pop up during the woman’s Tuesday interview, as she said the incident occurred the last year Ohio Bike Week was held at the fairgrounds. She said it was either 2007 or 2008. The last year bike week was held at the grounds was 2011.

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