By Chris Dyer | LINCOLN, NE -- Lancaster County Attorney Joe Kelly issued a statement Tuesday saying that a Lancaster County judge issued an arrest warrant for a local woman Tuesday for filing a false police report and lying to Lincoln Police investigators. Charlie Rogers, 33, who is openly lesbian was charged after investigators determined that her claims of being attacked in an alleged hate crime were false.
Rogers told responding officers On July 22 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 LGBTQ community also received widespread publicity nationally, particularly on social media sites. Thousands of people denounced the attack. Hundreds rallied around Rogers giving her money and holding vigils in the cities of Lincoln and Omaha.
Investigators looking into the attack against Rogers never not 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 LGBTQNAtion that detectives were dubious of the woman's claims from the start of the investigation.
Lincoln Police spokesperson, officer Katie Flood, had told media organizations last month that detectives had found no evidence that indicates that the attack was staged, however, police said they awere unable to identify any suspects in the case.
“We’re just investigating all aspects, including the possibility that it’s a false report,” Flood said. “It’s something we do every day — we look at that possibility with all crimes, whether it’s a robbery or a hit and run.”
The Journal-Star newspaper 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.
“The lines were too straight to be made during a struggle,” Lincoln Police Chief Jim Peschong said during a Tuesday afternoon news conference. ~ The Journal Star
Rogers pleaded not guilty to misdemeanor providing false information to police. A judge released her on a personal recognizance bond and set her next court appearance for September 14.
"She has maintained a consistent story throughout," said Brett McArthur, Rogers’ new attorney. "It's been very, very hard for her to go through such a traumatic event and to have to face these accusations."
Leaders of Lincoln's LGBTQ community acknowledged that investigators and officials had discussed the case with them and acknowledged that serious hate crimes do happen in Lincoln.
Star City Pride, PFLAG Cornhusker, UNL’s LGBTQA Resource Center, and Outlinc released the following joint statement in response:
Over the past few weeks, law enforcement has been very forthcoming in providing information to leaders of Lincoln's gay and transgender community. They recently discussed with our organizations the evidence and corresponding analysis in this case. We appreciate their openness during this process.
Law enforcement has reiterated that serious hate crimes do happen in Lincoln. These crimes devastate the very fabric of every community in Lincoln. They cause people to turn their heads over their shoulder in fear. Any allegation of crime or violence motivated by hate deserves the most serious investigation by law enforcement. By working with the FBI and multiple independent analysts, we are confident that this crime has received a balanced and thorough investigation.
We encourage anyone who has been a victim of a hate crime to contact law enforcement. Our recent experience gives us confidence that any crime in Lincoln will be thoroughly and fairly investigated.