Swedish Police Accused of Covering Up Music Festival Sexual Assaults

The police are reportedly now looking into the cases.

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Complex Original

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Police in Sweden revealed earlier today that they've opened up an investigation as to why reported sexual assaults by men during Stockholm's Kulturfestival in 2014 were never made known to the public. Swedish Prime Minister Stefan Löfven​ spoke out against the police involved in the situation, calling it a "double betrayal" of women, according to the Guardian.

The allegations of a police cover up surfaced after a local newspaper,Dagens Nyheter, obtained internal police memos that documented sexual assaults during the festival. Though one police memo stated that a number of refugee youths were arrested for sexual molestation, the official police report from the festival listed no arrests for sexual harassment or assaults. "As soon as you came out in the crowd, they began to grope,” a 15-year-old girl told Dagens Nyheter.

According to Roger Ticoalu, who is the head of events for Stockholm city administration, the organizers of the festival heard rumors of alleged assaults. "It was a modus operandi that we had never seen before: large groups of young men who surround girls and molest them," Ticoalu said. "In the cases where we were able to apprehend suspects, they were with a foreign background, newly arrived refugees aged 17-20, who had come to Sweden without their families."

Ticoalu maintained that the organizers of the festival didn't have enough facts to make the assaults public, but that they reportedly launched a program after the festival that encouraged young girls to report harassment. At this year's festival, there were 20 reports of harassment and assault. To make things more problematic, the Stockholm police basically had no answer when they were asked about why the initial reports of sexual assaults were never made public. "We should certainly have written and told people about this, no doubt,” Varg Gyllander, who is a Stockholm police spokesman, told Dagens Nyheter. He added, “Why it did not happen, I do not know.”

It's unclear how this will change music festivals in the country going forward, but Ticoalu said he wouldn't be surprised if the problem were more widespread beyond this festival. "We have seen different waves of this sort of violence over time," a spokesperson for the festival organizers told the Guardian. "Sexual harassment is something that happens in society, so everything that is happening in society will definitely happen there.” We will continue to update this story as more details in the investigation come out. 

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