After two students made claims they had been raped by Carabinieri officers, prosecutors in Italy are now investigating those claims. The two unnamed students say the officers escorted them back to their apartment from a nightclub, after which they raped them. The U.S. State Department is taking the claims seriously.

According to authorities in Italy, the two students were questioned by prosecutors for a number of hours about the Rape allegations. The Carabinieri officers (Italian paramilitary police) are yet be questioned about the allegations.

Fight breaks out at a Florence nightclub

As reported by The Local, the alleged rape incident happened on Wednesday night, when the 19 and 21-year-olds spent the evening in a Florence nightclub. A fight broke out in the club, leading to a group of police officers being called out. While four officers left the nightclub after the incident, two Carabinieri officers approached the students, offering them a lift back to their apartment. CCTV surveillance footage captured the moment the two women climbed into the police vehicle. The women claim that on arrival at their central Florence apartment the officers then raped them.

Investigations ongoing into alleged rape of U.S. students

After they reported the incident, the two women underwent an examination at a Florence hospital.

Investigators also took the clothing they were wearing at the time of the incident to run analyses.

Both students had been in Florence for several months and were reportedly studying the Italian language at an institute in the city. An official with the U.S. State Department said they are aware of the reports in the media of two students sexually assaulted by Italian police.

An official said they are taking the allegations very seriously.

When the U.S. Embassy in Rome was contacted for comment, a spokesperson said that due to the sensitive nature of the case, they need to protect the privacy of the two women involved. However, the U.S. Consul General did meet with the police chief in Florence on Friday morning relating to the rape allegations.

Ashley Olsen was murdered in Florence

As noted by the New York Daily News, Florence was the location of the January 2016 murder of 35-year-old Ashley Olsen, an American woman, in her apartment in the city. In that case, a Senegalese man was convicted of her murder later in the year and was sentenced to 30 years behind bars. According to an autopsy run on Olsen’s remains, she had skull fractures and had been strangled by the man. Witnesses said in court that Olsen and her attacker met in a Florence nightclub, just hours before her murder.