Marengo SO still looking into rape claims

Published 8:35 pm Friday, January 28, 2011

LINDEN – The Marengo County Sheriff’s Office is investigating claims that a woman was raped in his jurisdiction last week.

Rumors have been rampant throughout the week that a man alleged to have been impersonating a law enforcement officer raped a woman after stopping her car.

“We’re still chasing down leads,” Sheriff Richard Bates said Friday.

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“We’re working with all the surrounding agencies. It looks like every day a different lead from a different agency pops up.”

According to Bates, the incident allegedly happened last Wednesday, but word of it did not reach his office until Monday of this week. As of Friday afternoon, no victim had come forward to file a report and Bates’ staff was in the process of determining whether or not the circulating account was even true.

Bates did indicate similar incidents have previously been reported in other counties.

“Down in Clarke County, somebody tried to stop a lady with a blue light,” Bates said of a previously reported incident. That incident, while similar to current rumors, differs in the color of the light used. Stories circulating throughout the week have listed the alleged Marengo County perpetrator as having used a red light to stop unsuspecting drivers.

Citing those reports, Bates said he and his staff have communicated with other law enforcement agencies in neighboring counties in an effort to raise awareness of the alleged crime.

Given the reports, Bates has cautioned his deputies to be careful when stopping vehicles.

“We’re telling our officers when they get ready to blue light somebody to make sure they are coming up on a well lit area,” Bates said.

For motorists, Bates advises similar security measures.

“In giving your driver’s license, just roll your window down far enough to put your license out,” Bates said. “If an officer blue lights you and you’re not comfortable stopping, turn on your flashers to let the officer know you’ll pull over as soon as you get to a well-lit area.”

Finally, drivers are encouraged to dial 911 if they are uncertain of the individual attempting to stop them.

“If they just have any doubt, they can call 911 and let (operators) get them in touch with the local dispatcher,” Bates said.

Demopolis Chief of Police Tommie Reese echoed Bates’ words of caution.

“Some of the city units have blue and red lights, but some of them just have blue lights,” he said. “But none of them have just a red light.”

Reese added that should anyone attempt to pull over a motorist using only a red light, they should immediately dial 911.

“If you’re not sure, dial 911 any way,” he said. “The dispatcher can get in touch with the officer and verify if it’s a police officer or not.”

Individuals with information pertaining to the investigation are encouraged to call the Marengo County Sheriff’s Department at 295-4208.

Jason Cannon contributed to this report.