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3News Investigates: Cedar Point and shattered summer dreams

At least 27 alleged sexual assaults were reported to police from inside Cedar Point employee dorms since 2017, leading to 3 arrests and calls for culture change.

SANDUSKY, Ohio — Editor's Note: Part 2 of our three-part series can be seen in the player above. You can watch Part 1 at the bottom of this story.

For 19-year-old Raven Jones, the hurdles have always been higher. Her wonder years, an anxious climb.

The broken home, the multiple moves, new schools. The new bullies.

“Whether it was people making jokes about connecting the dots with my freckles, my weight my height my hair color… anything,” she told 3News Investigates.

To cope, she cut.

She marked her wrists with cuts, to soothe the inner pain.

“That’s what my friends like to call the bracelet phase. Because, you know, wear a lot of bracelets. I had all kinds of bracelets,” she said.

But thanks to those friends, and some counseling, she pushed through, graduating from New London High School, located about 35 miles southeast of Sandusky. Jones was even voted “Most Gullible” by classmates, largely because of a kind, trusting manner.

That was in the spring of 2021. Like many, she was tired of school. She looked to take a gap year, delaying her dream of becoming a cosmetologist.

She needed a summer job and Cedar Point was marketing itself as a prime choice for pandemic-fatigued teens.

Cedar Point was dangling high-pay and low-cost employee dorms to lure thousands of teens needed to staff the venerable Sandusky park.

"My dad was like, you should go work for Cedar Point,” she said. “I'm like, why. He said, it's $20 an hour, that's double what you're making at the nursing home."

She applied online and was hired almost immediately. She packed her things and headed for Sandusky to begin her new adventure away from home. And it all seemed so perfect, at first. "It's like college, but instead of school you have work. I'm just like, 'oh, that sounds fun. That sounds like something I'd want to experience.' Who wouldn't?"

Those visions of summer perfection soon darkened. By August, Raven was sexually assaulted inside her dorm.

A 3News Investigation, conducted with Tegna stations WTOL in Toledo and WBNS in Columbus found her story is far from alone. This week, 3News will report multiple stories with other women who filed sexual assault reports, and the responses from law enforcement, survivor advocates, former workers.

Using Ohio public records laws, the Tegna stations obtained 27 reports of sexual assault investigated by Sandusky police since 2017. Of those 27 cases, just three have ended with charges.

The investigation also found complaints of an out-of-control culture inside the employee dorms. Former workers say lax security has led to parties, alcohol abuse by underage workers, and drug use that led to multiple 9-1-1 calls for overdoses.

Cedar Point has its own state-accredited police department that often took the initial calls. So far, the department has refused to release their reports.

 "I'd gotten to a point to where I honestly didn't want to be alive anymore,” Jones said.

Three victims have come forward alleging Cedar Point allows the culture to fester and showing little concern for the assaults that happened to the workers.

“I was spiraling” Jones said. “I got to the point that I couldn’t take it anymore. I can’t. It seemed to get worse and worse, like eating away at me. I was so overwhelmed with thoughts and feelings that I just like could not handle it."

SUBMIT A TIP: Is there an issue in your community that you feel we need to be aware of? Share it with our 3Investigates team by emailing investigate@wkyc.com.

Cedar Point officials declined repeated requests to discuss the sexual assault reports. They instead released a statement:

“The safety of our guests and associates is always our top priority. Through a variety of methods, our on-site housing is monitored 24/7. In addition, our team is available to assist associates at any time with multiple resources, including on-site security, an emergency texting program, a dedicated and confidential associate “Speak-Up Hotline” and access to mental health programs. Associates are made aware of these resources during their onboarding process.

Cedar Point takes these matters very seriously. All reports of associate misconduct are immediately responded to, reviewed, and if appropriate, escalated to local law enforcement for further investigation.”

For Raven Jones, the night of her attack unfolded inside her dorm after a alcohol drinking game last August with co-workers. Raven said she lost her struggle to stay awake.

"Well, that's all I remember as far as that night. And then I woke up the next morning…My sweater shawl…was on the floor with my shirt and I didn't know where my pants were and I woke up and there was a condom stuck to my leg."

In bed next to her was her attacker, a co-worker she barely knew but a man she now feared. Struggling to recall the events and what to do, she later met with a Sandusky police officer and underwent an intrusive sexual assault exam.

“I was just freaking out. I was just like, I have no clue what to do. I was, I was angry,” she said.

In the following days, her attacker kept working. She tried to work as well before speaking to a human resources worker for Cedar Point. She said she was offered time off, but without pay.

It would be months before she met with a Sandusky police detective. She wanted to pursue charges. But the meeting didn’t go well.

“[The detective] was almost discouraging for me taking it further on more than one occasion. And that was upsetting because I felt like I was being discouraged from getting justice for what happened,” Jones said.

That was the last time she met with police. As for Cedar Point…

“Nothing. Cedar Point doesn’t care.”

Police Chief Jared Oliver denies that his detective tried to dissuade Raven from pursuing charges.

He said the department tried multiple times to arrange an earlier interview but connecting with the accuser was difficult because Raven moved and changed phone numbers.

Oliver said the investigation was turned over in January to Erie County Prosecutor Kevin Baxter for consideration of charges. So far, no charges have been announced. Baxter has not responded to multiple requests for comment.

For Raven and her family, her personal free fall continues while her attacker and others remain free.

This week, Cedar Point begins welcoming another crop of new summer workers in preparation for its 152nd season.

"It's unsettling. Scary. It makes me angry because the fact that these things are continuing to happen and they're allowing it/ it's extremely disturbing and unsettling and very upsetting," Raven adds.

At 3News, we are committed to sharing the stories that matter most to you. That means recognizing real problems and offering real solutions. 

Is there an issue in your community that you feel we need to be aware of? Share it with our 3Investigates team via the form below.

We’ll work to find answers to your questions, verify the truth, help you make informed decisions because what’s important to you, matters to us.

You can watch Part 1 of our 3News Investigates report on Cedar Point in the players below:

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