Monday, December 10, 2012

Maintaining Her Innocence, Charlie Rodgers Pleads No Contest In Falsified Anti-Gay Hate Crime Case

In Lincoln, Nebraska, Charlie Rogers maintained her innocence even as a Lancaster County judge found her guilty Monday of faking the anti-gay hate crime that shocked Lincoln and made headlines across the country. Rogers, 34, pleaded no contest in Lancaster County Court early Monday afternoon, a reversal of the not guilty plea she made in September. Judge Gale Pokorny found her guilty and set her sentencing for February 14. “She does maintain her innocence,” defense attorney Brett McArthur said after the hearing. “The courtroom is not a gentle place. Charlie is a very fragile personality. This has been a very distressing experience and she felt she couldn’t go on.” That stance is a stark change of course for the former Husker basketball star, who repeatedly said she welcomed a chance to tell her story in court. Prosecutors charged Rogers on August 22 with making a false report to police. She told investigators three men broke into her house on July 22, tied her up, carved anti-gay slurs into her skin and tried to light the house on fire. Media from across the country (including CNN, NBC and Sports Illustrated) covered the story this summer. Rogers re-asserted her story in a 15-minute video she posted on YouTube in mid-November. “The investigation culminated with me in a room with law enforcement and them saying, ‘Charlie you did it. Say you did. You did it.’ And me saying, ‘No. No I didn’t.’ I won't say I did it then. I won’t say I did it now. I did not do this. I am innocent.” Deputy Lancaster County Attorney Pat Condon on Monday laid out his case against Rogers. Police found no blood on Rogers’ neatly made bed even though she said her attackers bound, cut and pinned her down as she tried to fight them off, Condon said. A forensic pathologist said she believes Rogers made the cuts herself or that they were done with her permission, according to Rogers’ arrest warrant. The cuts were superficial and symmetrical, avoided sensitive areas of the body and would’ve taken considerable time to inflict, pathologist Michelle Elieff said. Investigators discovered that the items used in the attack – white knit gloves, zip ties and a utility knife – were purchased July 17 at a hardware store on 27th Street. During one of four interviews Rogers had with investigators, she said she shops at that store. Rogers told police she owned zip ties and a utility knife like the ones her attackers used, Condon told Judge Pokorny. Rogers said the gloves were not hers, but investigators found her DNA inside them. In her video, Rogers accused the Lincoln Police Department of botching the investigation by trying to shred her story while her three attackers ran free. Despite being railroaded, she said, she vowed to fight back. “I will keep fighting. I will keep trying to be heard. I will keep telling the truth. Doing this is going to hurt me and my case. But it might help someone else. It might make someone out there think twice,” she wrote in a November 11 letter she sent to media outlets. “That makes any bad that comes my way from speaking out worth it. I will not stand by and let someone else be hurt knowing I could have done something about it. I would not have stood by before this happened. I will not now.” Prosecutors did not offer Rogers a deal, so she faces up to one year in jail, plus a $1,000 fine, for the misdemeanor crime.

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