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Reese apologizes for rape claim

Chief says he spoke without full awareness of facts

Police Chief Mike Reese is apologizing for blaming a delay in responding to a rape report on Occupy Portland protests.

Reese made the claim during live interviews with KPTV and KGW-TV during the height of the Nov. 17 downtown protests. In both interviews, Reese said police waited three hours to respond to the report because they were tied up with Occupy Portland-related events.

But in a statement released on March 19, Reese said the report actually came in on Nov. 6. The alleged rape had occurred two days earlier and the victim was not in danger when the report was received. In addition to patrolling the Occupy Portland camp, police were responding to a number of other incidents at the time, including a shooting and a traffic accident.

'It was not my intention to mislead people, especially around an incident as serious and sensitive as a reported sexual assault. I spoke about the incident without knowing all of the details and made assumptions that were not correct. I apologize; I should have gathered all of the information before discussing it publicly,' Reese said.

In the statement, Reese also said the past six weeks have strained police resources, with many officers, sergeants, detectives, and command staff working long hours with little time off.

'We are working hard to provide the quality service the public has come to expect, but it is sometimes a struggle. I also know from talking personally to many of the protestors, that they too are tired from the unique challenges of this unprecedented movement,' Reese said.

In addition, Reese said the police would not try to limit their response to the ongoing protests, beginning with a march that was held earlier that day.

'Our Incident Commander Mike Leloff met with protestors before a march and asked if they wanted a police escort. When they told him no, he asked that they self-police their event and obey the law; police would only respond if there were complaints. The march participants agreed, and the event proceeded without any problems, or a police presence,' Reese said.

Despite the new approach to that March, police prevented some protesters from camping in the South Park blocks and evicted others from a foreclosed home they had occupied in Northeast Portland on Saturday.

FOX 12 contributed to this story.