Monday, December 6, 2010

IU student recants assault report

Bloomington - Police on the Indiana University campus say the victim of a reported November 5 assault has recanted her story.

The McNutt dorm resident had told investigators that she was jogging near 14th and Walnut Grove when an unknown man grabbed her from behind, told her he had a knife and raped her. During the investigation, IUPD detectives say they discovered that certain aspects of the report could not be confirmed, and that the woman did not respond to attempts to contact her.

"It was clear to us that there were inconsistencies, that it could not have happened," said IU Police Chief Keith Cash.

Shortly after 5:00 pm Thursday, police say she came to the police department and told investigators that the report was fictitious.

"It is frustrating, but then again, we don't want to discourage anyone from reporting an incident," Cash said.

University officials say they are concerned for the well-being of the student and are providing support and services to her. Some of the students who spoke to Eyewitness News said while they are relieved to hear there isn't a rapist on the loose, that doesn't necessarily mean they feel safer on campus.

"It's good to know it was a false report, but at the same time, it could happen," said one student.

"I think it kind of opened people's eyes. Seeing people running around by themselves," said another. "So maybe this is a wake-up call."

"I think our experience over the years has been that it is a safe environment, a safe city, but that doesn't mean you don't have to pay attention, you don't have to be aware," said Dean of Students Dr. Pete Goldsmith.

The reported rape came at a time when there had been three or four assaults on campus within a few weeks. Those assaults all involved acquaintances, which is why the woman's report of a random attack by a stranger shook the campus.

"I think there needs to be repercussions," said a student.

But rape crisis counselors are less concerned with the "cried wolf" aspect of this case.

"False reporting is such a small number. My concern is with the very large numbers of people who have experienced sexual assault in our community and aren't able to find a group of people who are there for them and believe them," said Tina Cornetta, Crisis Intervention Services coordinator.

The prosecutor is still deciding if false reporting charges will be filed against the girl.