Columbia police have charged a woman they say made up a claim of a sexual assault in Columbia's Five Points.
Columbia Police Chief Randy Scott announced Wednesday at a news conference that his officers charged 26-year-old Heather Felicia Atkins with perjury/false swearing to police and filing a false police report.
According to Columbia Police Chief Randy Scott, Atkins told officers on October 19 that she'd been beaten, kidnapped, and sexually assaulted at gunpoint while walking near 700 Harden Street. The woman said two men were responsible, and that one of them held her down while the other committed the sex assault.
Police say she gave detailed descriptions of the attackers and the circumstances of the incident.
A warrant, though, says that later proved false. The document cites witnesses who disputed Atkin's claims, and Scott says a Facebook posting also contradicted her story.
The warrant says Atkins later admitted to filing a false report.
"She lied to the City of Columbia Police, she lied to her family, she lied to the public and she broke the trust of the people around her," Scott said.
According to Scott, here is what really happened. According to him, Atkins left work early with a male co-worker and went back to his place. The man's girlfriend caught the two together, and in the resulting conflict, Atkins got a black eye.
Scott says the woman told them she was too embarrassed to tell the truth, and that's why she made up the story.
The chief says the potential harm that a case like this could do to victims of sexual assault is why he chose to address this case with a news conference.
"If you can imagine the damage of how this affects the true victims of sexual assault," Scott said. "It's too often that people are victimized. This is an underreported crime, but I can tell you the City of Columbia and law enforcement as a whole takes sexual assault very seriously. and this hurts the whole community that this allegation was made."