Monday, November 14, 2011

Riverside woman recants rape claim

A Riverside woman who reported being raped in an alley behind an apartment building on Nov. 1 has recanted her story and now faces a felony charge herself.

Riverside Police Chief Thomas Weitzel on Tuesday announced that the department sought a felony charge for filing a false police report against 47-year-old Mary Ann Malik for fabricating a story that she had been followed home from the downtown train platform, struck on the head and then raped by a man whom she described as black and in his 30s. The Cook County State's Attorney's Office approved a Class 4 felony charge against Malik on Tuesday morning.

"There was no aspect of the allegation that was true," said Weitzel, adding that Malik gave police an audiotaped confession Monday night. "It certainly alarmed the community."

Weitzel said police had been working on the case nonstop since the evening of Nov. 2, when Malik reported the incident to police.

In addition to canvassing the area multiple times, police reviewed video surveillance footage from Metra and from Soul Amici Express, a restaurant at the train station. Police walked the area from the train station to the alley for an hour each night after the reported attack and interviewed public works employees who were working to fix a collapsed sewer line near the site of the alleged attack on the night it reportedly took place.

But the investigation ran into a wall almost immediately after Malik reported it, more than 24 hours after the attack supposedly occurred. Malik told police she could identify her attacker and would be able to help an artist produce a composite sketch. Police said Malik never showed up for that appointment.

Until Monday, police had been unable to make any contact with Malik despite repeated attempts to do so by phone and in person at her apartment. On Sunday, officers visited her apartment building and said they could hear someone walking around inside the apartment, but no one would answer the door.

Two plainclothes officers on Monday afternoon were able to track Malik down in Oak Brook where she works in a department store.

Malik had claimed she was coming home from work on the night of Nov. 1 and exited a westbound Metra train after taking a circuitous bus ride from work to the Metra stop at Harlem Avenue and Burlington Street.

However, police learned from Malik's employer on Monday that she had the day off on Nov. 1. After interviewing her at work Monday, police arrested Malik as she stepped off the bus at Harlem Avenue and Cermak Road on her way home from work.

According to Weitzel, the woman's motivation for fabricating the story was to convince her daughter to move back in with her. Malik reportedly wanted her daughter to see that living by herself wasn't safe.

The rape report has had some Riverside residents, particularly those who use the train at night, on edge. Weitzel said he has received calls from husbands wanting police to be present at the train depot when their wives get off the train.

"I've started receiving calls for special police response," said Weitzel.

The incident also got the attention of a community activist from Chicago's Southwest Side who gathered about 10 others and convened a press conference on Sunday that received some attention from TV and radio outlets in the city.

Raul Montes Jr., a resident of Chicago's Gage Park neighborhood, according to his website, called from more police foot patrols and better lighting in the alley. The alley in question runs around an apartment building on Forest Avenue and appears to be private property.

Weitzel and Riverside Village Manager Peter Scalera said they have no idea who Montes is and said he has never contacted them.