The victim of an alleged hate crime in Nebraska has decided to make her name and face public for the first time since her attack, she says, to squash those skeptical that it ever happened.
“I’m not hiding from this anymore,” Charlie Rogers of Lincoln, Neb., told KETV in Omaha.
Rogers told police three masked men broke into her home early Sunday, bound her wrists and ankles with zip ties, beat her and carved anti-gay slurs into her arms and abdomen.
The men also allegedly spray-painted a derogatory term for lesbians inside the home and tried to set it on fire, in what police in Lincoln, Neb., are investigating as a hate crime. Rogers told police she was targeted because she’s gay.
Lincoln police so far have no suspects, Officer Katie Flood told NBC News, leading some to question whether Rogers made it all up. Rogers says the doubters are making her a victim all over again.
“Being a victim in situation like this or a survivor and then having your integrity questioned, I guess, it feels very victimizing again,” Rogers said. “It makes an already difficult situation more difficult because my world has been changed forever by these events.”
Rogers said she hasn’t spoken publicly about her attack because she doesn’t want to affect the police investigation, but she says she wants her own voice to be heard.
“I understand that people sort of have a hard time wrapping their heads around the things that have happened, as do I,” Rogers said. “But I’m a person with feelings, with concerns. For people to think that this doesn’t happen here, it does. It did.”
"We are investigating all aspects of the case, including the possibility that it is a false report," Flood said. "This type of evaluation is not uncommon and is necessary in completing an investigation. This is a complex case that takes time. At this time, investigators are aggressively pursuing all leads in the case."
Rogers was a standout basketball player at the University of Nebraska, and she says she’s an avid volunteer and a small-business owner.
Vigils in multiple Nebraska cities were organized in the days following her attack and more are planned, though Rogers says she won’t be attending them because she’s still in hiding.
“I could never thank them in a way that I feel adequately expresses how much it has meant to me that people are standing with me and people are standing for me,” Rogers said. “ There is fear, but there is resilience. There is forward.”
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