LINCOLN, Neb. — A Nebraska woman who claimed she was the victim of an anti-gay hate crime in which three masked attackers invaded her home, painted homophobic slurs on the walls, and carved them into her skin, before attempting to set her house on fire, has been charged with filing a false police report and lying to investigators.
Charlie Rogers, 33, a former standout basketball player at the University of Nebraska and who is openly lesbian, was charged after investigators determined that her claims of being attacked were an elaborate hoax.
In the alleged attack on July 22, Rogers told responding officers that she had been attacked earlier that morning by three masked men who barged into her house, bound her wrists and ankles with zip ties, cut her all over her body and carved homophobic slurs into her skin before dumping gasoline on her floor and lighting it with a match.
The crime, which shocked the city of Lincoln and created a firestorm of outrage from the LGBT community, made national headlines — thousands of people denounced the attack, and hundreds rallied around Rogers, giving her money and holding vigils in the cities of Lincoln and Omaha.
But investigators now believe that Rogers fabricated the story because she felt it would spark change, reported the Associated Press.
Four days before Rogers crawled naked and bleeding from her Lincoln home, screaming for help, she outlined in a Facebook posting what investigators believe was her motive for faking the July 22 attack, Police Chief Jim Peschong said at a news conference.
“So maybe I am too idealistic, but I believe way deep inside me that we can make things better for everyone. I will be a catalyst. I will do what it takes. I will. Watch me,” read the July 18 posting, according to police.
The Lincoln Journal-Star reported Tuesday that investigators sought an arrest warrant, saying that the evidence doesn’t match Rogers’ story.
In the warrant, investigators wrote that they found no sign of a struggle in the living room where Rogers said she fought her attackers as they ripped off her clothes and zip-tied her hands and feet.
Rogers told police one man held her down while another cut derogatory words into her arms and abdomen, sliced a cross into her chest and cut the front of her thighs and shins, the warrant states.
“There was no apparent blood on the bedspread, even though Ms. Rogers reported she was rolled on to her stomach after she had been cut on her arms, abdomen, chest and front of her legs while being held down,” according to the warrant.
And a forensic pathologist called in by the FBI, which assisted in the investigation, said she believes Rogers made the cuts herself or that they were done with her permission.
The cuts are superficial and symmetrical, avoided sensitive areas of the body and would’ve taken considerable time to inflict, pathologist Michelle Elieff said in the warrant.
Rogers has pleaded not guilty to the misdemeanor of providing false information to police. A judge released her on her own recognizance and set her next court appearance for September 14.
Police officials said they never ruled out the possibility that the alleged hate crime may have been a hoax, and in fact, one source within the Lincoln police department, speaking on the condition of anonymity, told LGBTQ Nation that detectives were suspicious of the Rogers’ claims from the start of the investigation.
Lincoln Police spokesperson, officer Katie Flood, told media organizations last month that detectives had found no evidence that indicates that the attack was staged, however, police said they were unable to identify any suspects in the case.