Thursday, September 1, 2011

Woman claims phantom stranger raped her, police say claim was false

Woodbury jogger made false report of sexual assault, police say

The reported assault of a jogger that shocked Woodbury residents in the spring was a hoax, the Woodbury Police Department said Tuesday.

A 33-year-old woman reported April 23 that she was sexually assaulted while jogging at 5:30 a.m. on a trail by Marksgraf Lake.

But that crime never happened, according to police Cmdr. Jay Alberio.

Instead, police believe the woman made up the episode. Alberio said police are reviewing the case to see what charges against her might be appropriate.

When the woman reported the crime, she had been injured and was treated and released at Woodwinds Hospital.

She said she was assaulted from behind by a man that she was unable to see, so she gave no description to police.

She told officers it was her third time jogging on the trail. The woman has lived in the neighborhood for about two years, Alberio said, and has no record of previous crimes.

The assault in the low-crime neighborhood stunned Woodbury residents. A local karate school even began to offer self-defense classes to women frightened by the assault.

But police grew suspicious.

"Based on physical evidence and statements we gathered, we started to question the validity of the report," Alberio said. Follow-up interviews confirmed their suspicions, he said.

The crime of falsely reporting a sexual assault is fairly rare, Alberio said.

"You just investigate them as they happen. Sometimes, the information leads you down a different path," he said.

Usually, the fake charges involve someone known to the woman. Attacks and alleged attacks by strangers are more rare, he said, "especially here in Woodbury."