Nebraska Woman Found Guilty of Faking Hate Crime
LINCOLN, Neb. - A Nebraska woman who claimed she was attacked by three men who carved anti-gay slurs into her arms and stomach was found guilty Monday of making a false report.
Charlie Rogers, a former University of Nebraska basketball star, entered a no contest plea, which allowed her to not admit guilt but state that she wouldn't offer a defense. Her attorney said Rogers maintains her innocence but didn't want a court fight or more of the intense publicity that her case has generated.
"She has a very sensitive personality, and this has been a very frightening experience on many levels," attorney Brett McArthur said after the hearing in Lincoln. "She's not a particularly outspoken person in the gay community."
The 34-year-old could face up to a year in jail and a $1,000 fine when sentenced in February.
Lancaster County Attorney Joe Kelly declined to comment Monday, saying he could not discuss the case until after Rogers was sentenced. He wouldn't say what sentence prosecutors would recommend.
Rogers was charged a month after telling police in July that three masked men broke into her home in Lincoln, assaulted her and carved derogatory words into her body. A neighbor told police that Rogers crawled from her home naked, bleeding and screaming for help.
Police believe she faked the attack because she believed it would spark change.
Investigators have said that evidence gathered at her home undermined her account of what happened, including a pair of gloves that Rogers said didn't belong to her but contained mostly her DNA and none from a male. Police said she deleted several text messages she'd sent the evening of the alleged attack, and that she'd recently purchased a box cutter and zip ties.
Police also pointed to a message she posted on her Facebook page shortly before the incident that read: "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."
Rogers reported the attack during a charged debate in Lincoln over the city's proposed "fairness ordinance," which would have banned discrimination against gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people.
"This has been a very traumatic event for her," McArthur said after Monday's hearing. "She has maintained her story, and having the focus of this investigation turned toward her has been really hard."