Thursday, April 18, 2013

Judge Sentences Charlie Rogers To Seven Days In Jail And Two Years Probation For Faking Anti-Gay Hate Crime

An update on a previous post: In Nebraska, Charlie Rogers will spend two years on probation and serve seven days in jail for faking the anti-gay hate crime that stunned Lincoln last summer and captured the nation's attention. Lancaster County Judge Gale Pokorny on Thursday also ordered the 34-year-old former Husker women's basketball standout to perform 250 hours of community service for the Lincoln parks system and to return any donation money that came in after she told police three men broke into her house on July 22, tied her up, carved anti-gay slurs into her skin and tried to light her house on fire. Should she fail to successfully complete probation, he said, she will be ordered to serve an additional 90 days in jail. Rogers faced as much as one year in jail, plus a $1,000 fine, for the misdemeanor crime. “The evidence is overwhelming that Charlie Rogers’ narrative of July 22, 2012, was an incredible and outrageous lie the second it passed her lips,” Pokorny said in the packed courtroom. Her no contest plea denied the public a chance to see evidence and evaluate her claims, Pokorny said. It also precluded any sense of closure for the community, he said, before laying out the results of the investigation, noting that, among other things, a forensic pathologist said her wounds were "dramatically inconsistent" with what she said happened. After Rogers reported the attack, thousands of people rallied to support her, many donated money, and some got "NOH8" tattoos. After police arrested her and charged her with making a false report to police, supporters pledged to return the money. The judge said her actions damaged the cause of gay rights she seemingly tried to help by staging the attack. “It exploded in her face. Ms. Rogers has single-handedly managed to do a disservice to her cause of enormous proportion. For a long, long time to come, when a gay (man or woman) makes a legitimate complaint about unequal treatment or discrimination, there will be a knee-jerk reaction among many -- Charlie Rogers claimed the same thing?" Her accusations, he added, were “horrific, kick-in-the-face. The people who came out on those dark July nights to hold a candle in one hand and their child’s hand in the other deserve a better explanation.” In the end, he concluded that Lincoln residents can start to put this behind them. “Lincoln can breathe a collective sigh of relief. This is not a community where neither masked nor hooded men secretly meet to come out of the dark to terrorize and burn out those who might be different from themselves.” In laying out the case against her in December, Deputy County Attorney Pat Condon noted that police found no blood on her neatly made bed even though she said her attackers bound, cut and pinned her down on the bed as she tried to fight them off. And forensic pathologist Michelle Elieff has said Rogers likely cut herself or was cut with her permission, according to the warrant for her arrest. The cuts were superficial and symmetrical, avoided sensitive areas of the body and would’ve taken considerable time to inflict, 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 said. Rogers said the gloves were not hers, but investigators found her DNA inside them. On Thursday, Condon said local police did an outstanding job investigating the case. Despite the no contest plea, Rogers has continued to maintain her innocence. In November, she told her story in a 15-minute video she posted on YouTube. “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.” In the video, Rogers accused Lincoln police of botching the investigation by trying to shred her story while her attackers ran free. She said she had been railroaded, but 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.”

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