SANDUSKY, Ohio — In the wake of 11 Investigate's revelations that at least 27 sexual assaults were reported during the last 5 years in the employee housing for Cedar Point workers, public officials from around Ohio have been weighing in.
Thursday night, Democratic Sen. Sherrod Brown called for an investigation.
"These reports are horrifying – Cedar Point must do everything within its power to investigate this. Companies have a responsibility to make sure that seasonal workers who live in employee housing are safe, both on and off the clock."
On Friday, Gov. Mike DeWine, a former prosecutor and state attorney general whose office investigated and prosecuted the infamous 2012 rape case involving teenagers in Steubenville, said state authorities are standing by to assist in an investigation in Sandusky.
"Reports of sexual assault are very serious and should always be treated as such," the governor said. "As a former county prosecutor and attorney general, I have worked with many victims of crime and know the importance of thorough, timely sexual assault investigations, which is why I created an initiative that analyzed thousands of previously untested rape kits to help get justice for survivors. We stand ready to help local law enforcement should they ask for help from the Department of Public Safety and the Ohio State Highway Patrol."
Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost echoed the governor's statement, saying the state Bureau of Criminal Investigation is available to assist.
"These reports are deeply troubling. Criminal justice is no private matter," Yost said. “I have reached out and offered the services of the Bureau of Criminal Investigations and our Special Prosecutions Unit – but we have zero legal authority to act unless we are asked."
Democratic candidate for Ohio Governor, and former Dayton Mayor Nan Whaley, followed, saying:
"These allegations are deeply disturbing and horrifying. I'm calling on Cedar Point to conduct a full investigation and do everything in its power to guarantee that its employees are provided a safe environment, both while at work and off the clock."
Toledo Mayor Wade Kapszukiewicz said Friday that Cedar Point leadership must act quickly:
“I, like many of my colleagues around the state, am very concerned about the very serious allegations regarding the safety of employees at Cedar Point. It is past time for leadership to be transparent about their investigation into these alleged incidents. Further, they must act swiftly to put protections in place for their employees who live on site and work for them.”
In a statement, Democratic Rep. Marcy Kaptur called the allegations "disturbing":
“The reports of violence against Cedar Point’s seasonal workers are tragic and disturbing. The courageous survivors who have now come forward should never have been exposed to harm in the workplace or corporate provided housing. Every worker is owed an environment where their safety and wellbeing is taken seriously. Cedar Point must withhold no effort in making the changes necessary to ensure a safe workplace and safe housing for its workforce.”
Friday night, Republican Rep. Bob Latta released his own statement on the investigation:
“It is absolutely essential for all cases of rape and sexual assault to be immediately reported to law enforcement, and they must be investigated.“
State Sen. Theresa Gavarone (R, Bowling Green) called on Cedar Point to better protect workers.
"As the mother of two daughters, I am shocked and appalled at the report out of Cedar Point. Employers must strive to ensure their employees are safe on company property. My heart breaks for the victims who suffered through this senseless violence."
Friday evening, State Sen. Haraz Ghanbari (R-Perrysburg) spoke out about the allegations against the amusement park on WTOL 11, calling for accountability.
"There is no one that is above the law, and if Cedar Point is complicit in what is happening, they will be held accountable," he said. "I pledge to work with all the law enforcement entities. Again, if there is anything at the state level that we need to do legislatively to provide additional accountability that is something that I stand ready to fully support."
State Rep. Lisa Sobecki (D-Toledo) sent at letter Friday directly to Cedar Fair President and CEO Richard Zimmerman. It reads:
"Dear Mr. Zimmerman,
I write to today to express my concern over the safety of seasonal employees of Cedar Point, as reported by WTOL Channel 11, Toledo. The allegations are deeply troubling and have revealed what appears to be an unacceptable pattern. I urge you to fully investigate the allegations and take the appropriate action to protect employees living in the company dormitories and working on company property.
Employers bear a responsibility of protecting their employees. Cedar Point attracts young men and women from across the globe to work for the summer which creates unique challenges; however, it does not absolve your company from any responsibility nor excuse inadequate action. It is of utmost importance that Cedar Fair, L.P. fully investigate the allegations and establish concrete steps to improve the safety of the dormitories for seasonal employees.
For more than 150 years, Cedar Point has been a fixture of Northern Ohio and is treasured by the community and visitors. I hope that you will sincerely take the allegations to heart and do everything in your power to rectify the situation.
I thank you for your attention to this matter and I look forward to your response.
Lisa Sobecki Ohio Representative, 45th District"
Are you a sexual assault survivor who needs help? We have links here to resources in Ohio, Michigan and across the country.
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