Thursday, December 19, 2013

Woman's claim of sexual assault doesn't add up, say police

WEST FARGO – A woman’s claim that two men tried to sexually assault her over the weekend in her apartment completely fell apart Tuesday during an interview with investigators, according to West Fargo police.

On Sunday evening, officers were sent to the woman’s apartment in the 400 block of Sixth Street East to check on her. She had been texting with a friend and had stopped replying after her messages mentioned that two men she did not know were knocking on her door, police said.

When officers arrived, the woman told them that about an hour earlier, she had opened her door and the two men had forced their way inside and attempted to sexually assault her. She said she fought back and screamed, and the men soon left, according to police.

The next morning, a West Fargo officer issued a news release based on the woman’s report. A couple of hours later, the department sent out an email asking news outlets to disregard the release. Assistant Chief Michael Reitan said the release had been issued prematurely, before police had sufficiently investigated the woman’s report.

On Tuesday, officers spoke with the woman a second time and determined that the information she gave them did not support her initial report, Reitan said.

“It appears that there wasn’t anything that occurred as described,” he said.

Reitan, who could not explain why the woman told police a fabricated story, said she will not face criminal charges as a result.

“We don’t believe that the information that we have currently and under the circumstances of the case that we would be able to successfully prosecute her for a crime,” he said.

The case has led West Fargo police to tighten their policy on issuing news releases.

Previously, officers could send out a release without clearance from a superior, but now officers will have to receive approval from a sergeant or someone further up the command chain, Reitan said.