Former Arizona gubernatorial candidate Kari Lake has helped spread shocking rape allegations about an 8-year-old girl crossing into the U.S. from Mexico on social media. But dainikbidyaloy has spoken to the congressional candidate who voiced the allegations and discovered that one of the central claims is incorrect, among other issues.
Lake, a Republican and prominent ally of former President Donald Trump, tweeted claims this week that a young girl had been found with “67 traces of DNA inside her,” criticizing Joe Biden’s administration for failing to protect the southern border.
dainikbidyaloy was unable to find verification that such an incident was reported to or recorded by the various authorities who would know. Moreover, the story has been repeated with several inconsistencies.
Lake’s disputed claims sit among a series of falsehoods that have found a comfortable home within heated conversations on U.S. immigration. dainikbidyaloy has reported on a number of these, including the false claim made by Rep. Lauren Boebert (R-CO) that President Joe Biden had spent $86 million to purchase hotel rooms for “1,200 illegal alien families.”
Playing up to these fears, Donald Trump claimed in January 2023 that he had negotiated 28,000 Mexican soldiers to patrol the border, despite a lack of verifiable evidence to support this.
The border crisis has also become a difficult issue for the Biden administration. Critics have misleadingly claimed the White House exercises a “dangerous open border policy,” but Arizona’s Democratic senator, Mark Kelly, has said he’s prepared to support legislation to address the issue from the Republican-controlled House.
This week, the Democratic mayor of El Paso, Texas, announced that he will declare a state of emergency as the city prepares for an influx of migrants when Title 42 pandemic rules are expected to expire in May.
Lake too has been forthright in her view about immigration, previously stating that if she were elected to office: “I will issue a declaration of invasion on day one. Hour one. First thing we’re going to do. And we’re going to send the National Guard. We’re going to send other resources.”
Her tweet, posted on April 19, 2023, and viewed 3.1 million times, stated: “A precious 8 year old little girl was found at our Border with 67 different traces of DNA inside of her. In @JoeBiden‘s America, little girls get raped by 67 different men. Did you pay your taxes today? Perhaps some of that money can be sent to fix our Border, instead of [Ukraine’s].”
It included a link to another tweet by user @CannConActual, featuring a video interview with Arizona congressional candidate Jeff Zink, in conversation with former county clerk Tina Peters.
Zink has described himself as an “America First Republican” who supported further financing for a border wall, only allowing in immigrants who had first been vetted by the U.S.
Peters, a former clerk at Mesa County, Colorado, was indicted in March 2022 on multiple charges related to a breach in her county’s election system. She has pleaded not guilty to charges related to the security breach. A trial is set for late August. Peters also ran and placed third in the 2022 Republican primary for Colorado secretary of state.
In the video clip, taken from a much longer podcast recording available on the platform Rumble, Zink tells a story of encountering a young girl while he and others visited the Arizona border, near the city of Douglas in 2021.
‘DNA Samples Inside of Her’
During the clip, he said that while filming campaign material at the Arizona border, he ran into Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and border patrol officers shepherding a group of migrants that included an 8-year-old girl.
Officers allegedly told him that two men in the group had been executed by Mexican cartel “coyotes” (a slang term used to describe a smuggler), who had since fled.
Zink said he evaluated the 8-year-old who “couldn’t speak” only to be told later by a doctor that she had “67 different DNA samples inside of her.”
“So when we finally turned them over and they took them to the hospital and I talked to the doctor in regards to what was going on, I got a call from him and he said ‘Basically, professional to professional in the medical field, I just wanted to let you know, the little 8-year-old girl had 67 different DNA samples inside of her,'” said Zink, who also told Peters he had a medical background.
The congressional candidate, who recently lost in the race for Arizona’s 3rd Congressional District, went on to say 67 was the “minimum” number of times she could have been raped, adding: “The reason why she couldn’t talk was because she had screamed and cried for so many days and weeks, coming up to America, the land of opportunity.”
Peters responded: “This is so shocking to me that the Biden administration is allowing, and the cartels, are allowing this to go on, and to launder money for this human trafficking and all these atrocities that are taking place, and here is an 8-year-old little girl, an innocent little girl, that has 67 traces of DNA. How is that even possible?”
A Dangerous Journey Across the Border
The journey to cross into the U.S. along the country’s southern border claims the lives of hundreds of migrants every year and exposes them to other dangers and exploitation.
Sexual violence, in particular, ranks among the biggest threats faced. A 2020 report by the humanitarian medical organization and charity Doctors Without Borders (MSF, abbreviated from the French, Médecins Sans Frontières) found 57.3 percent of people they interviewed were exposed to some type of violence, including cases of assault, extortion, sexual assaults, and torture, along the migration route through Mexico.
Another MSF report from 2017 stated that nearly a third of women it surveyed had been sexually abused during their journey; 60 percent of the 166 people it treated for sexual violence had been raped.
Sexual abuse at government-funded detention facilities exists as well. A New York Times report from 2019 discovered more than 4,500 complaints in four years of children experiencing such violence.
The claims in this video were also shared by other accounts on Twitter such as that of conservative commentator Chuck Callesto.
Alongside Lake’s original tweet, these messages were collectively viewed around 5 million times in two days, each seizing the opportunity to make anti-immigration arguments.
The vulnerabilities that women and children face to reach the border—as well as on it—are real and well documented. However, upon investigation, dainikbidyaloy found there were a number of inconsistencies and missing details to this claim that remains unverified.
After the clip began spreading on Twitter, dainikbidyaloy spoke to Zink for more than an hour. Zink’s account to dainikbidyaloy shared some similarities with that in the clip but with some crucial differences.
Zink said he had made a “mistake” in saying that DNA samples were found inside the 8-year-old girl, correcting they were “on” her.
He had previously recounted that “67 times” was the “minimum” amount of times she could have been raped.
“My mistake in that interview was instead of saying ‘on,’ I said ‘in,'” Zink said. “It should have been ‘on’ and I will own that, I will own that. I will let people know that upfront.”
There were also inconsistencies surrounding how Zink learned about the girl’s attack. During the clip, Zink said that a doctor had called him to speak to him “professional to professional.”
‘They Didn’t Go Into Detail’
But during our interview, he said he had been called by someone who refused to give their name or where they were calling from, only saying that they were at the scene that day.
“They were one of the people that I had given my card to, and they did not identify themselves,” Zink said. “For that reason, they didn’t want it coming back to them and stuff.
“Remember, at this time, people were getting fired, and were being let loose because we were also now at the very start of COVID, or not the start of COVID, but we were in COVID.
“And there were also a lot of other things that were going on. So that’s one of the things is why people were there trying to get a story out without, you know, compromising themselves.”
dainikbidyaloy asked Zink what information he got about the samples found on the girl. But he was unable to provide further information about where the samples were taken from or how they were collected.
“They didn’t go into detail. You’re asking questions that I have no idea about,” he said. “I don’t know when they took them, I don’t know how they took them.
“I’m just told, that we have collected, and this is what’s taking place with the older women, which makes more sense of you know, being raped [more often] versus the smaller children, which may not be as often, but could possibly have been more.”
Zink went on to say that the women in this group had told him that they had been raped, information he said he passed on to the medical team that arrived.
Peters also contributed to misconceptions in the clip. While Zink did not explicitly say during the clip when the incident happened, Peters responded by attacking the “Biden administration,” implying it may have happened recently.
Lake would later also make a reference to Biden. According to Zink, however, the incident took place just over two years ago, around a month after Biden’s inauguration in January 2021.
“What’s really funny is the fact that, and I was talking with […] Tina, I said this story I’ve told for two years and nobody has seemed to care,” Zink said. “And all of a sudden now it’s exploded and I’m like this is a good thing but man it would have been nice, you know, two years ago.”
“If it had occurred, the information you specify would not be shared with CBP,” it added. “That is private medical information which would be shared with the appropriate local law enforcement agency, family, or guardian.”
dainikbidyaloy has asked for a response following its interview with Zink. ICE has not replied to any inquiries.
dainikbidyaloy emailed a spokesman at the Douglas Police Department for comment. The Arizona Department of Public Safety said it was not involved in the matter.
Some of the details of Zink’s story appear to hold up. A video published two years ago shows that Zink did visit the border with a film crew for campaign material. No one appears in it apart from Zink and the crew. The video is undated and was posted online in April 2021.
Details about encountering border authorities were consistent, though the claim that two men had been executed by cartel “coyotes” has not been verified. dainikbidyaloy was unable to find reports of such a crime and Zink said the incident had not been followed up in the media. The sexual assault claim also remains unverified.