COLUMBUS, Ohio — WTOL and its sister stations in Cleveland and Columbus filed a lawsuit late Tuesday afternoon in the Ohio Supreme Court against Cedar Fair, the parent company of Cedar Point, demanding the park turn over its sexual assault reports from the last five years.
In the spring, 11 Investigates discovered that there have been 27 sexual assault reports filed in the past five years related to Cedar Point employee dorms. A 28th report was taken by the Sandusky Police Department in late spring.
SPD turned over its reports on the incidents after WTOL 11 filed public record requests.
In March, a similar request was made to Cedar Point Police Chief Ronald Gilson. He said the request would be given to the park’s lawyers. No additional response has been received from Gilson or the park related to those records.
For years, Cedar Point has argued that its department is a private force and not subject to public records law. But, its officers go through police academy training, carry a gun, have arrest power and are sworn in by the Sandusky city manager.
WTOL 11, WKYC and WBNS obtained a roster of current and former Cedar Point officers from the Ohio Attorney General’s Office. Former officers were reached by phone and several stated they believed they were operating as police officers, not security guards. Two former officers said Cedar Point was a good starting job for police officers before going on to larger departments.
Following WTOL 11's three-night investigation in early May, Sandusky stripped policing power from the Cedar Point Police Department on June 24. The Sandusky Police Department will assume all policing duties on park property once the transition is finalized next year.
Although future incidents will clearly fall under public records law, WTOL and its partners filed the lawsuit in an attempt to get any sexual assault records the park may have from the previous five years.
In an April interview, Sandusky Police Chief Jared Oliver said Cedar Point had previously agreed to call Sandusky for all felony-level incidents and that he could not guarantee his department was called in all cases. In Ohio, sexual imposition is a misdemeanor.
A request for comment was sent to Cedar Point spokesman Tony Clark, but he had not responded as of Tuesday evening.