Police Accuse Nebraska Woman of Faking Anti-Gay Hate Crime
(LINCOLN, Neb.) -- A Nebraska woman was arrested for faking an anti-gay hate crime in which she claimed three masked men bound her, cut words into her skin and spray-painted slurs on her wall before setting her house on fire.
Charlie Rogers, 33, had told police that the three assailants broke into her Lincoln, Neb., home on July 22.
Rogers, a lesbian and a former University of Nebraska women's basketball star, became a face for anti-gay hate crimes after the alleged attack.
Reports of the alleged assault outraged the gay community, and hundreds of people participated in rallies outside the Nebraska capitol building, and at a park in Omaha.
But now police have charged Rogers with false reporting, disclosing evidence that contradicts her story and points to a faked attack.
Police found white gloves, a box cutter and zip ties in Rogers' home. She had originally told investigators that the gloves were the only item left behind by her attackers, and that they did not belong to her.
But Lincoln police learned that Rogers had visited Ace Hardware in Lincoln on July 17 and purchased the same three items. When confronted about the supplies, Rogers admitted to buying all of them except the gloves, which she said were not hers, according to police.
But DNA evidence suggested otherwise.
"The University of Nebraska Medical Center found DNA evidence that matched Ms. Rogers' inside the gloves that were left at the scene of the crime," Lincoln Police Chief Jim Peschong said at a news conference Tuesday.
"There were no male DNA markers found inside the gloves," he said.
Peschong said that Rogers had no explanation for why her DNA would be in the gloves.
The day after her visit to the hardware store, Rogers posted the following message on her Facebook page: "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."
Peschong also said that the circumstances surrounding the cuts on Rogers' body aroused suspicion.
"The cuttings on Ms. Rogers arms were either self-inflicted or she had allowed someone to do them," he said. "The lines were too straight to be accomplished during a struggle, and ... the cuts were all in areas where the victim could have inflicted them herself."
The cuts produced some blood, Peschong said, but that investigators found no blood on Rogers' bedspread. He also said that Rogers had told police that her two dogs were passive during the alleged attack, but Peschong said that the dogs were "fairly aggressive" toward officers investigating the scene.
Police arrested Rogers on Tuesday afternoon and charged her with false reporting. She pleaded not guilty and was released on her own recognizance, or in lieu of bail.
Rogers' attorney, Brett McArthur, did not respond to a request from ABC News for comment Thursday.
Peschong said that the case would not affect the police department's trust in crime victims.
"Criminal incidents, especially hate crimes, are unique and viewed as such," he said. "We do not want crime victims to hesitate reporting crimes in the future."
Rogers' next court appearance is scheduled for Sept. 14. The false reporting charge carries a maximum penalty of one year in prison and a $1,000 fine.
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