TWIN FALLS - It was a story that sparked uproar across the region and even across the country. A five-year-old Twin Falls girl sexually assaulted at the Fawnbrook Apartment Complex in Twin Falls.
The three boys involved were ages 14, 10, and 7. The story gained national attention after the boys were mistakenly identified on social media and conspiracy-oriented websites as Syrian refugees. Officials later confirmed that the youngest boy is of Iraqi descent, and the two oldest are Sudanese.
On Tuesday, the three boys took felony plea agreements to the crime. Many of the details are unknown as the case is sealed because the boys are juveniles.
The victim's attorney, Mark Guerry, says after 10 months of court proceedings the family can now move forward.
"They needed closure of this chapter and they needed to move forward," Guerry said.
Guerry tells KTVB the approval of these plea agreements does not mean, he or the family, is completely satisfied with the handling of this case or all outcomes of the plea negotiations. Guerry adds his clients were prepared to testify at trial, but added after months of proceedings they were ready for some closure.
"The primary reason we accepted the plea agreements is because it held each perpetrator, each juvenile, accountable for a felony and because the crimes acknowledge the sexual assault nature of these offenses."
"The fact of the matter is they haven't been completely satisfied with the process because they've felt neglected," he said.
Guerry says that's because rumors of the suspects' national origin overshadowed the actual crime.
"This little girl, in my opinion, has been relegated to the back seat so to speak. She's almost been an afterthought in this case," Guerry said.
Twin Falls authorities last summer said other misinformation that circulated on social media and online included that the boys gang-raped the girl, that they were armed with a knife, or that a parent of one of the children "high-fived" or congratulated them on the sexual assault.
Twin Falls Police Chief Craig Kingsbury says when it comes to these types of situations nobody wins.
"Cases like this there are no winners and there are no losers. I think that it's important that we take the month of April to focus on child abuse prevention," Kingsbury said.
Grandma Joe, as they call her, was the woman who walked in on the incident, she tells KTVB the five-year-old girl and her family came to visit her after Tuesday’s court proceedings.
"They came to the door and the little girl says 'you still love me don't you grandma?' And I said 'yes I do.' They won and they were happy and everybody was pleased and that's how it ended," Grandma Joe said. “I’m glad it's all over with and I don't have to put up with any of that anymore."
However, Guerry says everything that has happened has taken its toll.
"Nothing we can do can restore her happiness or her innocence. She will be dealing with this for years to come," Guerry said.
Guerry added there could be a civil suit filed by the family in the near future.
The Twin Falls County Prosecutor's Office says sentencing dispositions will be held at a later date.
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