Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Claim of sexual assault proves to be false

A north Ruidoso couple were startled early in the morning Nov. 4 when a woman came to their door begging for help.

"The dog, he started to bark," the resident said. "And he never does that because nobody's ever around. And my wife's in the other room and she goes, 'Honey, there's somebody downstairs.' I said, 'Downstairs? There's got to be a nightmare here.'"

The man went downstairs accompanied by a growling dog. Outside was a woman.

"I'm saying, uh-uh, this don't look right; four in the morning. I'm waiting for somebody behind the wall."

He opened the door and heard, "I need help. I need help."

The man closed the door and called 911.

In minutes, three police cars and a fire truck arrived, followed later by an ambulance.

"We felt a little bit safer and we went outside with her. I felt bad because it was cold but I didn't let her in because I had this in the back of my mind, hey, wait, we live in the middle of nowhere man. How does this happen?"

The resident said the woman wanted to go home but she would not immediately tell police where she lived. Eventually she claimed to be from Missouri.

"What happened finally was we had a woman policeman up here, she was asking her all the questions, and finally they found out, she said she was raped and dumped off near here. She had her knees all scraped up and her pants torn. She said she was from Russia. She just wanted to go home. She didn't want to press charges. She didn't want to give names. She didn't want to do this or that. They finally took her but the experience was you should never let somebody in the house unless you know what's going on especially when you're in the middle of nowhere."

The three officers that showed up at the couple's door were Ruidoso Police Patrol Officer Carolee Jones, Eric Ament and Cpl. Larry Smith.

Jones reports the female victim smelled of alcohol and had slurred speech.

The woman said she had recently arrived from Missouri but was originally from Russia. She said she was traveling with a male subject and they had checked into a local hotel before going to a casino. She would not give Jones the name of the man she arrived with and said continuously she would be murdered in five to ten minutes if she told Jones the man's name.

The woman told Jones she had been thrown or jumped from a vehicle causing an injury to her knee, which had fresh blood. The victim said she thought she was somewhere in Texas.

The victim said they had left the casino and her male traveling companion had picked up a second man who began sexually assaulting her soon after he entered the vehicle. Her male companion continued to drive. She said she struggled with the male. The vehicle stopped and she jumped out and ran, but the man caught up with her, pulled down her jeans and raped her.

Jones said the woman had fresh blood on her knee and one of the knees of her jeans, which were torn for fashion, was torn more than the other.

The woman said she ran away from the man after the sexual assault and ran up the hill to the first house where someone answered the door.

The woman said she was born in Russia but was sent to the United States at a young age and had been a "sex slave" since she was very young. She said she feared retaliation if she mentioned the names of either the man she came to town with or the man who raped her. She said the man who raped her was a local and "you know him."

Jones went to Lincoln County Medical Center with the woman and stayed with her while doctors treated her. Then Jones turned the woman over to Ruidoso Police Department Victim's Advocate Dawna Reyes and detective Sgt. Wade Proctor.

"Her boyfriend had called the police department looking for her because he could not find her," Proctor said. "Of course we got a completely different story from him."

The boyfriend said there was an argument at the hotel and he was going to leave but decided he had drunk too much so he slept in the car, according to Proctor.

The boyfriend went looking for her the following morning and called the police when he could not find her.

"She had gone to the front desk and asked where the nearest (service) station was," Proctor said.

Proctor said the injury to the woman's knee had happened before the boyfriend left when the woman had left the hotel during the argument and fallen while walking in the woods near the hotel, according to the boyfriend.

After talking to the boyfriend, Proctor talked to the woman again.

"Now when we start talking to her, she is reluctant and she doesn't want to talk about this," Proctor said. "She doesn't want to do anything."

Proctor said she changed her story to say she was assaulted by two men after she walked off from the hotel. She refused to take a sexual assault examination at the hospital.

"You get to the point where the story just doesn't add up," Proctor said. "The more you go with it, the bigger it gets."

Proctor said the physical evidence did not support the woman's story.

"After being sexually assaulted in the type of terrain she said she was in there would have been some physical evidence," he said. "There were no marks on her back, no marks on her legs or any physical evidence to support her claim."

Proctor said he then gave the woman a chance to tell the truth about what happened.

"She started crying and said she made it all up," he said. "She was gone for several hours and because of her past she didn't want to get in trouble with her boyfriend so she made this story up."

Proctor said the woman did claim to have been sexually assaulted as a child growing up in foster homes. Proctor said he had not confirmed this information.

"I talked to a brother-in-law that said she and her siblings came from a pretty dark background," he said.

Proctor said after determining the woman had lied about what happened he could have charged her with filing a false police report but decided against doing that.

"I told her to get into counseling when she got back to where she came from and I would not charge her," Proctor said. "I have it on my board right there to follow up on it."

Proctor said officers and EMS spent a lot of time on this and if the woman does not get counseling, he will file charges and seek restitution.

Proctor said it took a lot of resources to conduct the complete investigation of the woman's false claim of sexual assault.

"It does happen here," Proctor said.

A Ruidoso restaurant worker was kidnapped, sexually assaulted and stabbed in the head May 5 as she was leaving work. That victim survived because Smith found her in a wooded area near the restaurant the following morning and summoned medical help.

The Ruidoso resident that summoned help for this woman did it with caution."It was a weird thing," the resident of the home said. "It was just really bizarre. All I can think of is what my wife said, 'Honey, I watch Criminal Minds. Don't open that door.'"