Ranger Says Alcohol Contributed To Rape Reported At Illinois River Campground

Tuesday, September 3rd 2013, 9:58 pm

By: News On 6

Two Green Country men are accused of raping an 18-year-old woman at a campground on the Illinois River.

Rangers with the Oklahoma Scenic River Commission say almost every call they go on is related to drinking. There are nine part-time rangers to patrol 71 miles of river, and unfortunately, they can't catch everything.

Casey Strate and Andrew Dodson, both 22, of Washington County, are in the Cherokee County jail for sexual assault after partying on the Illinois River.

"Saturdays, we go from one call to the next," said Capt. Bill James, with the Oklahoma Scenic Rivers Commission.

James said this is an example of a bigger problem on the river: too much drinking.

9/3/2013 Related Story: Two Men Accused Of Rape At Illinois River Campground

"Alcohol was a big factor, because these young ladies were invited down to a larger group and they were going to party and they were playing beer pong," James said.

Capt. James said the rape happened at the Diamondhead Resort campgrounds.

Witnesses say, after a game of beer pong, the two men carried the 18-year-old back to a tent.

Capt. James said the teen was so drunk, she was nearly passed out.

Rangers say an underage girl was asleep in the tent at the time and she woke up to witness the sexual assault on the 18-year-old. The witness is the one who ran and got help.

Investigators say the victim was treated and released from a Tahlequah hospital.

The report states one of the men told rangers it was consensual, but the victim and witnesses said it wasn't.

Capt. James believes changing the alcohol laws would help cut down on fights, sexual assaults and medical emergencies on the river. He suggests limiting adults to one-six pack each.

"Keep that blood alcohol level down to where you can function out here on the river and not drown yourself or get involved in something that's going to get you hurt or killed," James said.

He brought the idea up at the last commission meeting and said he won't stop pushing for it, especially after a teenage rape is reported.

Capt. James said this is the first sexual assault reported to his office this year on the Illinois River. His department and the Cherokee County District Attorney's Office continue to investigate it.


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