Sunday, June 7, 2009

Charges dropped in rape hoax at parade

A follow up to our story Here. Strictly a monetary fine. Some of the comments by officials are more than a little disturbing.

(Mayor) Zabrocki said that Krueger has "probably learned her lesson."

And which lesson would that be mayor? That she can lie that she was raped, mom and dad will pay for the fines, but she personally won't face any punishment. Heck of a lesson to teach, not only her, but anyone else who is paying attention.

Police won't confirm how much the investigation cost, but I have a problem believing that it was only $2,000. Seems a pretty light "Punishment", for something that could have put a man in prison for life.

False rape claimant has charges dropped.

Charges against a teenager who falsely claimed she was raped on her way home from the South Side Irish Parade were dropped today after the girl's family promised to pay police more than $2,000.

But the Cook County state's attorney's office, Tinley Park police and 19-year-old Heather Krueger's lawyer all say she didn't bribe her way out of trouble.

Her family's agreement to meet Tinley Park Mayor Ed Zabrocki's demand they refund police the $2,219 cost of the investigation is unrelated to the decision to drop charges, authorities insist.

Tinley Park last year passed an ordinance allowing the village to recoup costs from convicted criminals, including those convicted of filing a false police report.

Krueger told police a masked stranger sexually assaulted her near the Tinley Park Metra station as she made her way home from the parade March 15. She was charged with filing a false police report after she admitted she'd made the story up so her parents wouldn't be angry with her for drinking, police said.

Soon after Krueger recanted her story -- and with a similar rape-hoax case from Palos Heights fresh in many south suburbanites' memories -- Zabrocki quickly demanded an apology from her, vowing to pursue her financially.

Prosecutors Thursday dropped the case against her during a brief hearing at the Bridgeview Courthouse. The evidence against her "didn't meet the burden of proof," state's attorney spokesman Andy Conklin said.

The cash offer to police was not discussed in Judge Denise Filan's court.

Krueger's attorney Mark Besbekos said the Kreugers had agreed to pay only because "it was the right thing to do."

Though "there was no quid pro quo," the state's attorney's office was "aware of the commitment to pay police back" before the hearing, Besbekos said.

Zabrocki, who also denied any quid pro quo, said his police chief called three days earlier to tell him the case would be dropped and that the Kreuger family would pay.

"Coincidences happen," Zabrocki said.

Tinley Park Police Chief Michael O'Connell said he told the prosecutor handling the case to "pass on the message that we're coming after (the Kreugers) for the money," even if the case was dropped.

But Conklin said prosecutors told Kreuger's family any attempt to force them to pay were "a civil matter" beyond prosecutors' control.

O'Connell said Thursday he was "totally okay with" the family paying under the circumstances.

Zabrocki said that Krueger has "probably learned her lesson."

Krueger's hoax was unmasked a week before parade organizers canceled next year's event, citing high levels of public drunkenness and crime.

In October of last year, Palos Heights police took heat from the public after authorities decided not to pursue charges against a 17-year-old girl for fabricating a story that she was abducted and sexually assaulted as she left work.

The girl and her family apologized to the southwest suburban community in a written statement and police said she was ordered to perform community service.

Some media reports said the investigation into the alleged rape cost up to $250,000, but police claimed the figure was much lower, though they would not say how much.