Two False Rape Reports in Months After Brutal California High School Gang Rape

Two teens make false police reports of rape in Richmond, Calif.

Jan. 19, 2010 — -- In separate incidents, two California teens reported rapes that never really happened and which, if proven true, could have landed the accused in prison for life.

The false police reports were filed at the very same police department that, just three months earlier, handled the now notorious gang rape of a 16-year-old high school student at her homecoming dance.

Now police in Richmond, Calif., say they have spent tens of thousands of dollars investigating the supposed crimes before the accusers admitted that they made them up.

A 15-year-old girl told police last Friday that she had been kidnapped at gunpoint and raped by four men.

Lt. Mark Gagan of the Richmond Police Department in California said the teen offered detailed descriptions of her assailants, including tattoos and hairstyles, before confessing that she'd fabricated the rape to avoid punishment for missing her curfew. The sex, she said, had been consensual.

"She called police Sunday and recanted the story, explaining that she had left school early and had been with a few people consensually," said Gagan. "She explained she had made up the whole scenario to cover up why she was not home on time."

Gagan said that the teen initially made the police report by flagging down a bus operator at around midnight Friday wearing only her underwear. She later told police where she hid her clothes to make her story more believable.

"Fortunately, no one was detained or harmed because of this teen's false report," said Gagan.

Three weeks earlier, one suspect in an alleged rape spent three days behind bars after a 17-year-old girl claimed that he had raped her, according to Gagan.

That rape, too, ended up being a false report, said Gagan, who told that the teen later told police the suspect was her boyfriend and the sex was consensual, but that a fight had led her to lie and accuse him of rape.

Gagan declined to speculate whether these teens were inspired by October's gang rape that attracted national attention.

Gang Rape at Homecoming Dance Inspires False Reports

On Oct. 24, 2009, a 16-year-old girl was sexually assaulted by at least seven males ranging in age from 15 to their mid-twenties outside her school's homecoming dance. The assault lasted for two-and-a-half hours while onlookers did nothing to help her and some took pictures.

The six suspects who have been charged have entered "not guilty" pleas.

Gagan said it is frustrating to pour resources into crimes that never really occurred.

"Our detectives put a lot of time and energy into trying to determine who these men were," he said, adding that a special team was assembled to take DNA from the teen who lied this past weekend.

"We put so many resources into this case and we are a small organization," he said. "This cost us 100 hours of staffing and tens of thousands of dollars."

Gagan said that the teen in this past weekend's incident "was not apologetic," despite how seriously her lie could have impacted another person's life.

"DNA could have seriously implicated these people," said Gagan. "The exposure for the crime she's alleged is life in prison. If someone's DNA had come and she stuck to her story, they could have been looking at life in prison."

The Richmond Police Department has never charged a person for a false report, Gagan said, in an effort to avoid creating an environment where people with legitimate claims hesitate to report crimes.

"It's a complex situation and there is still a lot of work to be done before the criminal justice system has a way to deal with these types of cases," the lieutenant said.