Tuesday, December 14, 2010
False sexual assault reports strain police resources
When a 13-year-old Corona girl reported Nov. 16 that she had been sexually assaulted by an unknown person, police found evidence that a crime had occurred -- as well as evidence that cast doubt on her story.
Despite questions, the Corona Police Department, fearing that the perpetrator was real and was a threat to others, immediately launched an investigation. Fifteen investigators, some pausing on other cases, took part in several briefings, a drawing of the suspect was sketched, fliers were distributed, officers went door to door, detectives conducted surveillance, video was obtained from businesses and people were questioned.
Then, two weeks later, the girl admitted making up parts of her account to avoid getting in trouble for other activity.
Such false reports are a concern for all Inland law-enforcement agencies because they take their attention from real crime. It also causes authorities to question legitimate reports, an advocate for sexual-assault victims said.
"It definitely drains our resources. It causes us to divert our energy and our time to a crime that didn't occur," said Murrieta police Capt. Mike Baray, who helped investigate a false allegation in 2002 that tied up officers in Riverside and Los Angeles counties.
"Cases have to be re-prioritized and refocused," Corona Capt. Michael Abel said.
Corona is still weighing a charge of filing a false police report against the girl, Abel said.