Lincoln police arrest hate crime victim

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August 21st, 2012

*Update: Charlie Rogers was arrested after meeting with investigators Tuesday afternoon. The Omaha World-Herald reports Rogers appeared in court Tuesday and pleaded not guilty to the charge of false reporting. Her attorney, Brett McArthur, told the paper “To go through such a tramatic (sic) experience as she has been through and now be accused of a crime has made this even more difficult.”

A news release from the Lincoln Police Department said Rogers’ allegations were serious, “garnered national attention and spread fear among local citizens.”

“A great deal of time and resources were spent investigating Charlie Rogers’ claims in hopes of identifying and arresting the three suspects in this case,” the statement continued, adding the incident was “aggressively investigated as a hate crime.”

Omaha, NE – Lincoln police have concluded their investigation into last month’s alleged attack against a gay woman — with an arrest warrant for the victim.

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Last month, the city of Lincoln responded swiftly, and in large numbers, to news of a brutal assault on a gay woman. Speaking to a crowd of over 500 people on the steps of the Nebraska State Capitol, Beth Rigatuso, who heads Omaha Heartland Pride, was one of several gay rights activists who addressed the crowd. “I will drop everything that’s important in my life to be here, to stand with all of you, again if needed. But I pray to God that this never happens again.”

Charlie Rogers, pictured here in a mug shot upon arrest Tuesday, spoke with KETV after the alleged assault. In her only media interview, Rogers responded to circulating rumors that the attack may have been a hoax, calling the idea “hurtful.”

The city of Omaha quickly followed suit. At a vigil that drew thousands of people, speaker after speaker shared stories of personal stands against violence and discrimination. Omaha City Councilman Ben Gray called the alleged victim, Charlie Rogers, 33, an “innocent individual” victimized by those who “want to continue to practice hate and intolerance.”

“Charlie is a beacon of hope for the rest of us in spite of the problems that she continues to face,” Gray said. “We … need to stand up and say hate no longer lives in our country, our city and our state, and we will do whatever it takes to end the hatred in this country.”

On Tuesday, after almost a month of investigation, Lincoln police issued an arrest warrant for Charlie Rogers on charges of lying to police.

The warrant details Rogers’ claims that three masked men broke into her Lincoln home on July 22, bound her hands and feet with zip ties, and carved homophobic slurs into her body before pouring gasoline throughout her home and lighting a match.

The FBI assisted Lincoln police in the investigation, which was initially suspected to be a hate crime. But in the arrest warrant, police say several pieces of Rogers’ story didn’t add up. Rogers said she was attacked on her bed, but the warrant says the bed was found to be neatly made with no signs of a struggle and no blood on the bedspread. According to the warrant, the FBI sent photographs of the cuts on Rogers’ skin to a crime lab, and a forensic pathologist said they were “superficial, symetrical (sic), avoided sensitive areas of the body, appear that they would have taken considerable time to do and are accessible to the victim and follow the victim’s frame of reference.” Forensics concluded the cuts appeared to be self-inflicted or done with Rogers’ acquiescence.

The alleged assault made national headlines and drew an outpouring of support and emotion. Large vigils were held in both Lincoln and Omaha. (Photo by Hilary Stohs-Krause, NET News)

A prominent gay advocacy group in Lincoln, OutLinc, issued a joint statement on behalf of several gay rights groups in the community in response to the police report, calling the Lincoln Police Department “very forthcoming” throughout the investigation, and saying the groups were confident the crime received a “balanced and thorough investigation.”

In the statement, OutLinc said any allegation of hate crimes “deserve the most serious investigation by law enforcement” and that these types of crimes do happen in Lincoln. False reports, the statement continued “do not invalidate” any actual crimes.

Rogers was set to appear in court Tuesday afternoon.

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