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Lesbian who alleged Nebraska hate crime charged with lying about attack

Lincoln Police Department

Charlie Rogers, 33, of Lincoln, Neb., was arrested and charged with false reporting Tuesday. She pleaded not guilty to the misdemeanor charge and was released on a personal recognizance bond Tuesday afternoon.

Updated at 7:58 p.m. ET: A Nebraska woman who claimed she was the victim of a horrific hate crime in July and subsequently charged with making false claims to police pleaded not guilty to the misdemeanor charge Tuesday.

Police in Lincoln, Neb., who spent weeks investigating the case, arrested Charlie Rogers Tuesday for making a false report. Lancaster County Attorney Joe Kelly said a judge issued the warrant for her arrest earlier Tuesday.

Rogers, 33, of Lincoln, pleaded not guilty to the charge and was released on a personal recognizance bond after a brief court appearance Tuesday afternoon.

Her lawyer, Brett McArthur, said she maintains that the attack happened, according to The Associated Press.

Rogers told police three men wearing black ski masks broke into her home during the early morning hours on July 22, bound her wrists and ankles with zip ties, beat her and carved anti-gay slurs into her arms and abdomen.

Rogers also alleged the men spray painted homophobic slurs inside the home and poured gasoline around the house before lighting it on fire.


Rogers said she was bound and naked when she escaped and managed to knock on a neighbor’s door at about 4 a.m. July 22.

Police said they interviewed Rogers on four separate occasions. Because of inconsistencies in her various accounts of the attack and forensic DNA evidence, a warrant was issued for her arrest.

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“A great deal of time and resources were spent investigating Charlie Rogers’ claims in hopes of identifying and arresting the three suspects in this case,” Lincoln Police said in a statement. “As the investigation progressed and additional interviews were completed, the department received results from forensic analysts and experts making it apparent that the physical evidence conflicted with Charlie Rogers’ version of events.”

Also puzzling was that Rogers wrote on Facebook on July 18 what they believe is a motive for faking the attack, according to The Associated Press: "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." 

There was no apparent struggle in the room where Rogers, a former University of Nebraska basketball star, said she was attacked on her bed, the warrant for her arrest says, which also described the bedspread as appearing “neat” and “evenly placed on the bed.”

“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 legs while being held down.”

Forensic tests of Rogers’ bedding at the University of Nebraska Medical Center found no traces of blood.

Additionally, the FBI sent photos of the cuts on Rogers to a coroner’s physician for Lancaster County, who consulted with Dr. Michelle Elieff, a forensic pathologist. According to the warrant, Elieff said Rogers’ cuts appeared to be self-inflicted.

“This opinion is based partially on the fact that the cuts appeared to be superficial and symmetrical, avoided sensitive areas of the body, appear that they would have taken considerable time to do and are accessible to the victim and follow the victim’s frame of reference for reading and writing.”

Elieff also noted Rogers had no bruising, even though she alleged the men beat her.

Police also found a pile of clothes, a pair of white knit gloves and a red box cutter on the living room floor. Rogers said the gloves did not belong to her, but DNA testing determined she was the “major contributor” of DNA inside of them, according to the warrant.

Investigators discovered that the gloves, zip ties, blades and a red utility knife were purchased five days before the alleged attack at a hardware store in Lincoln. During an interview, Rogers told police she shops at that store.

Police showed a clerk from the store a photo lineup and the clerk identified Rogers as the person who bought the items, the arrest warrant says. 

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Police said that they also discovered graffiti spray painted on the basement walls after Rogers told the initial responding officer about it the morning of her alleged attack. But in a subsequent interview with Rogers, police said she did not know anything about the graffiti because she left her house immediately after the attack, the arrest warrant said.

KETV

Rogers gave an interview shortly after her alleged attack, saying she wanted to counter those who doubted that the attack ever happened.

News of the alleged attack sparked multiple vigils attended by thousands of gay-rights supporters who donated money in support of Rogers in cities throughout Nebraska.

At the time, Rogers said she would not attend the vigils because she was in hiding and wouldn’t speak publicly about the details of her attack for fear of influencing the police investigation.

But after a week, police said they had found no suspects, leading some to question whether Rogers made it all up.

On July 27, Rogers gave an interview to KETV in Omaha,  saying she decided to make her name and face public to counter those skeptical that the attack ever happened.

“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.”

If convicted, Rogers could face up to one year in jail and/or a $1,000 fine, the Lancaster County Attorney’s office said.

A statement about Rogers by the City of Lincoln Police Department noted the city investigates 120,000 cases every year.

"A relatively small fraction is later determined to be false," it said. "This case will not impact our trust of crime victims. Criminal incidents, especially hate crimes, are unique and viewed as such. We do not want crime victims to hesitate reporting in the future."

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