LINCOLN, NE, August 22, 2012, (LifeSiteNews.com) – Charlie Rogers’ story about crawling at 4 a.m. on a Monday morning – bound, bloodied, and baying – across the street to her neighbor’s house after being brutally attacked by three men seemed too horrific to be true. Yesterday, police in Lincoln, Nebraska, concluded it was just that.
The 33-year-old lesbian, a former University of Nebraska women’s basketball star, arrived on the front door of her neighbor Linda Rappl’s house on July 22, with a story out of a horror movie. Three masked men had broken into her home, tied her up with plastic zip ties, carved a cross into her chest and anti-gay slurs into her arms and stomach, spray painted hateful words onto her walls, then tried to set her home on fire.
“All I could see was a cut across her forehead and blood running down,” Rappl said.
Rogers said the men held her down on her bed, cut her from her thighs to shins, then turned her over and sliced her from her buttocks to her right calf. Rappl described the wounds as “superficial” but signs of “torture.”
“When she was standing at my door, I believed everything,” Rappl said. “I had no reason to doubt that what she said happened had happened.”
The town and surrounding area believed her story, too, as her tale ricocheted around the internet.
Omaha-based Heartland Pride held a rally last month outside the Lincoln capitol, attracting 1,000 people and raising $1,800, which Heartland President Beth Rigatuso deposited in a bank account for Rogers. First Plymouth Congregational Church held a second event in her honor. Lincoln Mayor Chris Beutler, a Democrat. issued a statement declaring, “We stand united with our gay and lesbian citizens in denouncing violence directed at any group.”
But Rogers’ story quickly unraveled.
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Police say her story changed markedly during the four times they questioned her.
LPD investigator Lynette Russell said she found the bedspread, where three men had purportedly restrained and tortured her, “evenly placed on the bed and no apparent sign of a struggle,” and without a spot of blood.
Then there were the wounds themselves. Russell said they “appeared superficial and symmetrical, [and] avoided sensitive areas of the body.” They appeared to be consistent with someone writing on themselves, she said.
At the scene, police found a pair of white knit gloves. “She had told the investigators initially that the gloves were the only things that were left behind by her assailants and that they were not hers,” said Lincoln Police Chief Jim Peschong. But the only DNA the University of Nebraska Medical Center found inside them “matched Miss Rogers.”
Police soon found that she had purchased a pair of white gloves, zip ties, a utility knife, and blades at the local Ace Hardware store on July 17. They matched the bar codes to those sold at the store, and an employee identified Rogers as having shopped there.
The day after shopping at Ace – four days before the alleged assault – Rogers posted on Facebook: “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.”
The shocking incident took place as the city debated a gay rights measure, the “Fairness Ordinance.” Lincoln police say Rogers staged the attack to gain support for the homosexual political agenda.
As the investigation began to implicate her, Rogers came forward for an interview with KETV. Her lawyer at the time, Megan Mikolajczyk, had been prepared to go to the media, as well, but canceled saying, “Things have changed.” Soon, she was off the case.
“I start to feel like a pawn in a game that isn’t my game. I didn’t ask for this,” Rogers said while sobbing. “What matters is the story.”
She said a shocking event like this “ignites fires – and that’s a good thing, in some ways. It can also be a very bad thing.”
“There is fear, but there is resilience,” she said. In what may have been a reference to President Obama’s re-election slogan, she concluded, “There is Forward.”
Police took her before a Lancaster County judge on Tuesday, charging her with reporting an event “she knew to be false,” as part of a plot to cause police to “instigate an investigation of an alleged criminal matter.”
FBI pathologist Michelle Elieff, who had been called in to investigate the presumed hate crime, wrote in the arrest warrant that the wounds were self-inflicted or caused by permission. “The FBI, the Bureau of Fire Prevention and the Lincoln Police Department have spent an exorbitant amount of time and personnel resources investigating this,” Peschong said.
Rogers pleaded not guilty on Tuesday to one count of making a false police report, a misdemeanor punishable by up to one year in jail. The judge released her on her own recognizance, setting a trial for September 14.
The fact that her story was another in a string of apparent hate crime hoaxes did not cause local LGBT lobbying organizations to rethink their political lobbying activities.
“Even if she did it, we still live in a culture of homophobia,” said the First Plymouth Congregational Church’s associate pastor, Nancy Erickson.
Star City Pride, PFLAG Cornhusker, and two other LGBT organizations released a joint statement in reaction to Rogers’ arrest, stating, “The false reports received by law enforcement every year do not invalidate the actual crimes that are committed.”
One of the organizers of the Lincoln rally, Beth Rigatuso, said, “If in fact she did do this to herself, it points to a much larger issue of self-hatred.”
Linda Rappl, the neighbor who came to Rogers’ aid, said, “This whole thing has really shaken my faith in humanity.”
She and Lincoln police have suggested Rogers get counseling.
The alleged hoax arrest comes shortly after a Montana man, Joseph Baken, claimed he was beaten up on his 22nd birthday for being homosexual. After his story went viral, police discovered he had simply botched a backflip and slammed his face into the pavement.
Baken capped off a series of faux hate crimes allegedly directed against gays and lesbians, as well as other minorities.
Earlier this year, Central Connecticut State University held a “solidarity rally” on behalf of 19-year-old Alexandra Pennell, a lesbian allegedly receiving hate notes, which officials later discovered she had planted herself.
In May, police charged a lesbian couple in Colorado with writing “Kill the Gay” on their own garage.
A substantial number of hate crimes hoaxes take place each year, whether on sexual or racial grounds.
Jeff Laszloffy, president of the Montana Family Foundation, told LifeSiteNews.com earlier this month there is a dearth of real violence against homosexuals, “so they’re having to gin up excuses to get these laws passed.”