Safety concerns following alleged rape

Updated: 08/26/2014 11:27 PM
Created: 08/26/2014 10:50 PM WHEC.com

The crime occurred just blocks from the Eastman School of Music, and where city school kids get on the bus. A young girl was raped early Saturday morning, near the Liberty Pole and the Salvation Army Shelter.

The State Corrections Department ordered Michael Caruthers to report to the shelter by 5:30 on Friday, following his released from prison that day on a robbery sentence. But the shelter’s operators say Caruthers never showed up, as was set up as a condition of his parole.

Now, the Salvation Army is re-examining its reporting policies when a parolee doesn’t show up as scheduled.

We spoke with Mayor Lovely Warren on Tuesday after an event at City Hall. She wanted to quickly put things into perspective and make sure people recognize that this was an isolated incident.

“I think that right now the focus needs to be on the victim in this case and making sure she gets the services and support that she needs,” said Mayor Warren.

Mayor Warren called what a 14-year-old girl says happened to her at the Liberty Pole on Saturday a “tragedy.” Warren says she hopes the community can pull together and rally around this teen. She wants to make it clear, as horrible as this crime was; it doesn’t make the streets of Rochester any less safe. Warren says she’s committed. To making sure prosecution is swift and thorough.

“The focus has to be on how we respond to the victim, but we also need to make sure we hold this person accountable for their actions. The fact that this person has been apprehended, we’ll make sure to work with the district attorney’s office to make sure this person is prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law,” Mayor Warren said.

But Warren says it’s important to let state lawmakers know what happened here. Parole Board records show the state was hesitant to release Michael Caruthers, the man accused of this crime. He was released one day before the crime happened. According to the Salvation Army, he was supposed to have checked in the day before the crime.

“I don’t think we should stop giving people a second chance,” said Major Judy Hart, Salvation Army.

Some are questioning if downtown Rochester is an appropriate place for a homeless shelter, particularly one right near a bus stop where school children board.

“I truly believe that the SA being here, and running this shelter, we are taking people off of the streets that would be more of a harm to the citizens of this community than having them in a shelter. Nobody wants a shelter in their back yard. Homelessness is there,” said Major Hart.

We did speak with Michael Caruthers mother, but she did not want to speak with us on camera. She gave us the following statement:

“I love my son, and he is innocent until proven guilty.”

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