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3News Investigates: Only 3% of sexual assaults reported by Cedar Point workers have ended with an arrest

Erie County Prosecutor Kevin Baxter says park officials twice ignored offers for prevention training by victim advocates.

SANDUSKY, Ohio — 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.

Raven Jones’ nightmare began inside a Cedar Point dorm. It’s a night she can’t take back.

"I cried a lot. There were some sleepless nights. There’s still is a lot of sleepless nights,” she said.

Jones said she was sexually assaulted last summer inside a Cedar Point dorm where she worked as an 18-year-old living away from home for the first time.

Armed with a sexual assault examination as evidence – bolstering her recollection of that night – Jones took her case to the courts and to Erie County Prosecutor Kevin Baxter for a chance at justice.

"It was difficult to decide to testify in the first place, let alone actually do it,” she recalled. “It took a lot out of me for sure."

That fleeting chance at justice withered in the hands of a grand jury – which declined to indict the suspect in Jones' case.

She now joins a growing group of women who filed reports of being sexually assaulted while working at Cedar Point and having no charges pursued by law enforcement.

"You see all these other cases and it happens for all these other ones, but none of the ones at Cedar Point, or slim to none," she said.

Since 2017, Sandusky police have taken 29 reports of sexual assault from Cedar Point workers who lived in the park's employee dorms.

It is likely an undercount. Several former workers, including those working in the park’s human resources office, have alleged that sexual assault victims were often discouraged from filing a report.

Cedar Point also operates its own police force, staffed with armed officers who are state certified and given full arrest powers,

However, the park has refused to provide any police reports despite Ohio’s public record laws that call for private police forces to comply with the statute.

Since 3News Investigates’ series launch in May, Cedar Point has announced a policy change that strips its police department of its policing duties. The park will be staffed by a security force, which will alert Sandusky police of any criminal conduct, according to a statement from park officials.

A spokesman has said Cedar Point puts its workers and customers “at the forefront of everything we do.”

"While we do not comment on specific personnel matters as we protect the privacy of our associates, we feel it is important to reiterate that every associate who feels unsafe in any way is welcome, without exception, to discuss with management. In no way are any associates discouraged from escalating any situation that may make them feel uncomfortable,” spokesman Tony Clark said in an emailed statement.

Park officials have repeatedly declined invitations to discuss the allegations of misconduct made by over a dozen former employees to WKYC.

Despite the park’s policy change, WKYC is continuing its partnership with its TEGNA sister stations in Toledo and Columbus on a lawsuit in Ohio Supreme Court seeking the release of any reports taken by officers with the Cedar Point Police Department.

In the meantime, two more sexual assaults have been reported this season. To date, just one of the 29 sexual assaults have ended with an indictment.

"It's too many, you know, it is just too many,” said Prosecutor Baxter.

Overall, roughly half of sexual assault cases in Erie County ended with charges. Those numbers drop dramatically – to just 3%- for the Cedar Point cases.

Baxter blames a lack of evidence for the poor ratio. Such as the case with Raven Jones, who said she was too intoxicated to consent. Historically, when a person capacity to give consent is absent, the perpetrator is often charged with sexual battery.

“All I know is we did present the case as fairly as we could to the grand jury, and they made a determination,” Baxter said. “Because again, usually don't have an audience. you don't have any outside witnesses. it usually comes down to whether it was consensual or not"

Baxter conceded that allegations of sexual assaults and excessive drinking among Cedar Point workers are often present in the cases. The misconduct is so prevalent that the county's victim assistance advocates offered to host free prevention training for park staff.

The offer was made twice: Once in 2019 and again this season.

"They never took us up on it,” Baxter said.

For Raven Jones, the changes made by Cedar Point aren’t enough to make a difference for her, the other victims and victims who have yet to come forward.

"I would like to have faith in the fact that it would, but do I believe it would? I don't know."

She is, however, sure of one thing about Cedar Point.

"I'll never go back. Not even to visit. I can't bring myself to do it,” she said.

Previous reporting from 3News Investigates on Cedar Point:

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

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