Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Breaking News: Heidi Jones Pleads Guilty to False Reporting

This is an update on this post and this one about Heidi Jones, the New York TV meteorologist who claimed she was the victim of an attempted rape last September 24 at the hands of an unnamed Hispanic man. The incident supposedly occurred while she jogged in Central Park. She also claimed that the same man showed up near her Manhattan apartment almost two months later, and allegedly told her: “I know you went to the police.” 

None of it happened. Ms. Jones today pled guilty to two misdemeanor counts of falsely reporting an incident. The judge says she will be sentenced to three years' probation and 350 hours of community service.

Mrs. Jones does not seem to have acted with malice, but it is well to note that even rape lies that don't intend to target an individual sometimes do -- that's because, once unleashed, a rape lie is impossible to control short of recanting. In this case, "she provided a detailed description – including the alleged attacker's race, height and clothing," see here, and if the police had found someone without an alibi who matched that description, as has happened in other cases, the consequences could have been very damaging.

Jones' claim was yst another unfortunate high profile rape lie that does no favor to actual rape victims. Rape victims need to be assured by counselors that Ms. Jones was obviously a troubled  individual; her lie has nothing to do with an actual rape, and there is no reason to allow Ms. Jones' lie to interfere with reporting rape.

It is also unfortunate that Jones targeted an imaginary Hispanic rapist, a troubling racist ploy likely intended to enhance the plausibility and scariness of the lie.  Her claim did no favors for the Hispanic community. See our post When Rape Lies Tap Into Racial Stereotypes.

Ms. Jones seems more troubled than evil. We hope she gets the help she needs, for her sake and, especially, for the sake of others she might someday hurt.  Too bad Crystal Mangum didn't get the help she needed before it was too late.

Here is the news report:

NYC TV meteorologist admits false attack claims

NEW YORK — A TV meteorologist has admitted making up claims of being attacked twice in New York City, sparking an extensive police investigation.
 
Heidi Jones pleaded guilty Wednesday to two misdemeanor counts of falsely reporting an incident. The judge says she will be sentenced to three years' probation and 350 hours of community service. That's the time prosecutors say police spent looking into her phony claims.

Jones told police Dec. 1 a man had attacked her in Central Park last September and again outside her apartment in November.

Jones has been suspended from her job at New York's local ABC station.

She previously worked in cities including Albany, N.Y., and Houston.

She also has filled in on ABC's "Good Morning America."

http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/44519867/ns/us_news/