A Nebraska "hate crime" that targeted an openly gay woman and that triggered responses from candlelight vigils locally to Facebook postings of support nationwide was staged by the alleged victim, authorities said Tuesday as they charged the woman with lying to police.
Charlie Rogers - a former basketball player for the University of Nebraska who identifies herself as lesbian - told police that three masked men entered her home on July 22, stripped her, tied her down, and carved homophobic slurs into her body before attempting to set her and the house on fire.
But the Lincoln Police Department said Tuesday that "the physical evidence conflicted with Charlie Rogers' version of events" and that "extensive investigation revealed numerous inconsistencies."....
The police in Lincoln, Nebraska, arrested Charlie Rogers on charges of filing a false report.
"She maintains her innocence. This has been kind of a kick in the gut as a victim to turn around and be charged," [her attorney, Brett McArthur, told CNN].
In a news release, police cited DNA and pathologists' examinations that did not substantiate Rogers' original statements, and changes in her story during the investigation.
"These were serious allegations that garnered national attention and spread fear among local citizens," the police statement said. "A great deal of time and resources were spent investigating Charlie Rogers' claims in hopes of identifying and arresting the three suspects in this case."
Beth Rigatuso, president of Heartland Pride based in Omaha, organized a vigil that attracted over 1,000 people in the aftermath of the reported attack.
For her, the news that it may have been a hoax is "a pretty big blow."
"I don't feel betrayed as much as I feel sad for how, if this is really true...there is a lot of things going on with her," Rigatuso said. "It leads to a bigger problem in our society that someone would do this.".....
[In addition to physical evidence contradicting her claim], the deposition said, the FBI sent photos of Rogers' cuts to a forensic pathologist, who believed the wounds to be self-inflicted.
"This opinion is based partially on the fact that the cuts appeared superficial and symmetrical, avoided sensitive areas of the body,...are accessible to the victim and follow the victim's frame of reference for reading and writing," the deposition said.
Rumors had been circulating in recent weeks in Lincoln and on the Internet due to the fact that police had yet to pinpoint any suspects. The urge to respond to rumors prompted Rogers to give her one and only interview.
"For people to think this doesn't happen here, it does," Rogers told CNN affiliate KETV on July 27. "It did."
She refused to discuss the incident itself during that interview.