A 16-year-old Oakdale girl who claimed she’d been kidnapped and raped on June 13 — sparking a frenzy of fear and concern within the community — has recanted her story, said police.
According to the initial claim, the girl was walking home from summer school at Oakdale High School when an unknown male subject in the 600 block of West J Street approached the girl from behind and threatened her with a knife. He forced her into a truck and covered her eyes with an unknown item. He drove to an unknown location near Oakdale, forced the girl to remove her clothes and raped her. Afterward, he made the girl dress and then dropped her off in an undisclosed area of Oakdale.
After several weeks of investigation, interviews and area canvassing, as well as hundreds of phoned in tips from concerned community members who were on the look-out for the suspect’s black truck, the victim came forward and admitted she’d made up the entire story in an attempt to get attention from her mother.
The revelation is bittersweet. While it’s a relief for the community that there isn’t a dangerous rapist looking to pluck unsuspecting teen girls from the streets, it’s certainly no victory as the cash and staff-strapped department spent valuable resources on a phony claim.
Police detective Brian Shimmel admitted that he’d had some doubts about the facts as they were presented but every case deserved due diligence for justice so he hit the trail hard, pulling in every resource available.
By the time the girl admitted her claim had been a lie, the department had already expended 200-plus hours of personnel time, with an approximate dollar amount of $5,000 attached to that wasted effort.
“Her timeline and facts of the case didn’t add up,” Shimmel said of what initially tripped his sensors about the case. “But she was going to stick to her story to the bitter end.”
However, when she finally told the truth, she admitted to officers that she hadn’t meant for things to go so far.
“She was very remorseful,” added Shimmel.
Remorseful or not, her actions were a detriment to the department and the community.
“It was a tremendous detriment to our other cases. I have a huge caseload due to lack of personnel and cutbacks and the time we spent investigating this case could’ve gone to legitimate cases with real victims. Unfortunately, with sexual assault cases a lot of the victims won’t come forward because they’re afraid people will think they’re lying. False claims make things more difficult for true victims.”
Although filing a false police report is a misdemeanor, the police department and the investigating detective decided not to press charges against the girl for filing a false police report, but there is the possibility of imposing community service.
“She cost the city a lot of money,” said Sgt. Kerri Redd. “But we’re trying to think of what is the best thing for her and putting her in juvenile hall didn’t seem like the right answer.”
Shimmel agreed, saying, “We emphasized the consequences of her actions but we felt due to her age, prosecution wasn’t the right choice.”