‘Russ’ party hit by gang rape claim

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Police in Lillehammer launched an investigation Sunday into an alleged gang rape, after an 18-year-old graduating student known as a “russ” said she’d been raped by four other male russ late Saturday night. They were all attending one of the spring russ season’s large outdoor parties, held in a parking lot at the former site of the Winter Olympics 20 years ago.

Police were called shortly after 1am on Sunday, but Norwegian Broadcasting (NRK) reported the alleged rape occurred around midnight. The young woman was unable to offer any detailed descriptions of her alleged attackers, other than saying they also were russ.

Between 40 and 50 of the characteristic red “russ buses” were parked in the lot at the stadium now used by the famed Birkebeiner long-distance race events. Alf Harald Rosenberg of the Gudbrandsdal Police District told NRK that all the buses have been registered and photographed, for use in the ongoing investigation.

“We have spoken with all the owners of the buses,” Rosenberg told NRK. “If a rape occurred, it took place in one of the 40 to 50 buses. We just don’t know which one.”

Arvid Røste, operations leader for the police, said the 18-year-old had been taken to a center for rape victims in nearby Gjøvik for medical care and counseling but later re-joined her friends.

“She is naturally very upset and this is a serious case,” Røste told NRK. “We haven’t managed to get much more information from her yet. We have gone through the buses to try to establish a crime scene, but none of them have matched her description.”

Røste added that police have few solid leads in the case. “The problem so far is that all the russ are dressed alike (wearing red or blue overalls for the duration of the graduation party season) and everyone has been more or less drunk,” Røste told NRK. “We haven’t found any witnesses yet.”

He estimated there were more than 6,000 partying graduates at the Lillehammer gathering, which draws russ from around the country and is held annually at the Birkebeineren Stadium.

newsinenglish.no/Nina Berglund