The alleged victim of an anti-LGBT hate crime in Lincoln, Nebraska was arrested on Tuesday for making false claims about her attack. Charlie Rogers originally reported that she was attacked on the morning of July 22 by three men wearing masks and gloves. She told investigators that they bound her wrists and ankles with zip ties and proceeded to carve anti-gay language onto her abdomen.
Rogers also told reporters that the attackers spray painted more anti-gay slurs on the inside of her home and attempted to light the residence on fire. She reported that she escaped naked and ran to her neighbor’s house for help.
The original incident sparked massive community support for the victim and a vigil was held in remembrance of the violence and in support of her cause. Many doubters also surfaced directly after the attack made national headlines, causing Ms. Rogers to make a recorded statement about the incident.
Investigators started to doubt her story in recent weeks and have failed to find any suspects so far. NBC News reports that investigators questioned Rogers on four separate occasions and discovered inconsistencies in her story. They also discovered clothing, white gloves and a box cutter on her living room floor, which investigators quickly proved she bought at a local store. A forensic pathologist also concluded that the cuts on her stomach appeared to be self-inflicted, according to the Lincoln Journal Star.
Investigators also noted that the bedroom where Rogers said the attack took place showed no evidence of violence or struggle. There were also inconsistencies about when Rogers became aware of the graffiti in her house. Officials said she didn’t know anything about the graffiti in her original statement when she fled the scene. Later, she told reporters she noticed the markings before she escaped.
The Lincoln Journal Star also notes that Rogers wrote a cryptic Facebook message five days before the attack. It reportedly read, “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.”
All of these clues led investigators to arrest Charlie Rogers on Tuesday. She pleaded not guilty and her lawyer maintains that the attack occurred. She was released the same day on a personal recognizance bond.
Whether the attack happened or not, the situation does not bode well for those struggling for LGBT rights. If Charlie Rogers was actually attacked and officials doubt her story, then victims of LGBT hate crimes might face a justice system that does not take their stories seriously. On the other hand, if this victim has lied about the attack, then her words have hurt the people who supported her over the last several weeks and also hurts the validity of those people that actually experience hate crimes and prejudice in their homes and communities.
Linda Rappl, Charlie Rogers’ neighbor who initially helped her after the attack, told the Journal Star, “I’m just dumbfounded. I’m sick to my stomach. I can’t believe it. I’m still having a hard time believing it’s a hoax.” Other LGBT supporters have already expressed their disheartened frustration if the story ends up being untrue. One young woman who supported Charlie Rogers told ABC 8 News, “I was mad about it because why would you lie about something so horrible, but I thought about it and became more okay with it.”
A few weeks ago, a young man from Montana, named Joseph Baken, lied to police about an anti-gay beating he received outside of a bar. A video quickly surfaced the next day which showed Baken attempting to flip off a curb, causing his injuries and disproving his story. His false claims upset LGBT supporters who had rallied around him across the internet. It remains unclear why the young man decided to make up the story about the LGBT hate crime.
It also remains unclear what happened at Charlie Rogers’ house in July and the investigation is ongoing. She is set to appear in court on September 14 regarding the charges.
Photo Credit: Noble Spear
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