A WOMAN is facing charges of making a false complaint to police after claiming she was raped in Port Melbourne last month.
The 22-year-old's story prompted a man-hunt for the alleged offender and a significant police investigation, costing thousands of dollars in time and resources.
On May 28, Victoria Police contacted the Sunday Herald Sun with the story in a bid to alert the public and appeal for help to find the alleged offender. When contacted on Friday by the Sunday Herald Sun, the woman, who is receiving counselling, said she was sorry for lying.
"I haven't meant to upset anyone," she said.
The woman claimed she was still the victim of a sexual assault, which occurred "somewhere else".
Police from the Moorabbin sexual offences unit said the woman had made "full admissions" on Thursday night that she had lied to police.
Sgt Toogood said the Port Melbourne community needed to be informed the rapist did not exist.
"The offence reported on that date did not occur. There is no reason for the people of Port Melbourne to be apprehensive going about their business," he said.
The woman claimed she had been grabbed by the throat from behind and dragged into an alcove on the St Joseph's Church grounds on Rouse St, where she was raped between 8pm and 8.30pm on May 25.
Police said they hoped the false report would not discourage victims from coming forward for help.
Detective Sen-Constable Mark Feehan said: "Victoria Police encourages all victims of sexual assault to come forward so police can provide support, investigate and prosecute offenders."
Centre Against Sexual Assault spokeswoman Carolyn Worth said false reports, while rare, were a "tricky issue".
"It makes everybody slightly wary when there is a similar allegation, which we cannot afford," she said.
"We've spent a long time trying to get people to take sexual assault seriously."