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11 Investigates: Sexual assault cases plummet at Cedar Point

The drop comes after a four-night May investigation, but park and Sandusky Police Department stay quiet on any security changes put in place.

SANDUSKY, Ohio — The roar of the Cedar Point roller coasters can only be heard on four days a week now in Sandusky. The park has transitioned to its HalloWeekends schedule. The summer season is over.

Most of the seasonal workers have left the dorms for weekdays at colleges or other jobs. Some of them will return to help out for the park’s popular Halloween-themed events.

According to police records, those dorms were a much safer place this season than years past.

11 Investigates has looked into sexual assault reports tied to the park’s dorms since 2017. There have been 29 in that time period, but just two this season. The first incident took place on May 24 and the second was on July 28. There have been none since. By comparison, there were 10 incidents reported to police last season.

Only one man has been indicted and convicted in any of the cases.

Cedar Point and the Sandusky Police Department were asked about changes made since our May investigation aired. They did not respond to our request for information.

But after our investigation aired, the city reached an agreement with Cedar Point to take over all policing duties on park property, including the dorms. All future sexual assault incidents will be handled by Sandusky.

During the course of our investigation, multiple women told us they were discouraged by the Cedar Point Police from reporting incidents.

11 Investigates has tried repeatedly to get sexual assault complaints from the park. WTOL and sister stations WKYC and WBNS currently have a case pending in the Ohio Supreme Court against Cedar Fair – the park’s owner – demanding that reports from the last five years be turned over.

We obtained our reports from Chief Jared Oliver of the Sandusky Police Department. He told us is in the spring that prior to the new agreement, his department was supposed to be called to all felony-level complaints, but he could not guarantee that happened.

Leeann is one of the women who said she was assaulted. She told us she was raped after a co-worker showed up in her dorm late one night in August, 2020. He returned to Turkey, his home country, before police could interview him.

She agreed to allow us to use her first name, but we are not using her last name to help protect her identity. She is encouraged that the Sandusky police will be taking over future cases – from start to finish. But she said the issue will never go away completely because of the environment inside the dorms.

The assaults are “going to happen. That place is a party city. But I’m hoping it will be taken care of quicker and more efficiently,” she said.

In July, Erie County prosecutor Kevin Baxter was asked if he felt more confident now that Sandusky is handling all the policing duties. He provided a one word answer: “Yes.”

But he later added that Chief Oliver is the big reason for his confidence.

“They’ve become a really good department,” he said. “I’m confident they’ll be able to investigate these cases.”

For Leeann, she continues to fight Cedar Point in court, arguing in a civil lawsuit that the park should have known dorms were a dangerous environment. She said she will never return to a place that – at one time – held so many happy memories.

“It’s sad, because Cedar Point was something I had a passion for and I had to just pick up and leave, and it happened so quickly,” she said. “And it’s not like only Cedar Point is ruined for me, but King’s Island is ruined for me because that’s owned by Cedar Fair. I don’t look at roller coasters the same.”

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