Friday, March 16, 2012

Police says teens fabricated assault story, charged with filing false report

The following piece is actually the latest in a series of updates on the page (you can see the updates in the timeline as you scroll down the page at the link). It is encouraging to see that while the photo of the man was released for identification, he isn't named, and the police have been very proactive to make it known that he was falsely accused.

In Kingsport, Tennessee, three teenagers were charged with filing a false police report after claiming a man with a baseball bat attacked them at a Kingsport school, making sexual advances in the process.

According to Kingsport police, the vindictive juveniles had in fact been vandalizing a baseball dugout on the property, with the good Samaritan stepping in to stop them. The youths responded by snapping the man's photo, showing it to a mother, and concocting the story of an assault. The mother called police, setting off a brief search for the purported assailant before he was exonerated.

The juveniles charged were 13, 13 and 15 years old. They were jumping on a tin roof on the baseball field's dugout. The concerned citizen approached the teenagers and told them to stop, adding they could hurt themselves.

There were also reports of juveniles attempting to vandalize street signs in the area, striking them with a skateboard. The concerned citizen took a photo of the three youths at the ball field. The three juveniles left, then returned a short time later. They then used a cell phone to snap a photo of the man. One of their mothers was shown the picture — and fed the story that they had been assaulted and told to take off their pants. The mother called police, with all the teenagers allegedly relaying the fictitious account to investigators.

The violent and sexual nature of the claims were taken seriously by police. Police issued a public e-mail alert containing the man's photo. Here was the message:

"Police are attempting to locate a man allegedly involved in an altercation with three juveniles at a Kingsport school.

"One of the victims snapped a photo of the man with their phone, with police asking the public to help identify him.

"The incident allegedly occurred at approximately 3:20 Saturday afternoon at John Sevier Middle School, 1200 Wateree Street. Kingsport police say three children, identified as teenaged, were playing on school grounds when approached by the suspect.

"Anyone with information on the man, pictured above, is asked to contact Kingsport police at (423) 229-9429 or (423) 246-9111. The incident is under investigation."

Contents from the KPD message were subsequently distributed across area media outlets.

Police say the e-mail alert, and response it generated from the public, helped locate the man in the picture — and determine the minors' story was false. The teens were interviewed by police once again, allegedly admitting their original account was totally fabricated.

They have each been charged with filing a false police report and will go through the juvenile court system. Other charges may also be pending.

Police expressed gratitude to the man who stepped in to halt the juveniles' vandalism of the dugout. He said the man expressed no animosity towards police for releasing his photo while they were gathering information on the incident.

"He was doing what he was supposed to do as a good citizen," said a police representative. "And (the juveniles) retaliated in one of the worse ways you can."