A woman who said she was raped in a restroom at Main Beach was arrested at her home on Friday. The woman, a Fernandina Beach resident, was charged with filing a false police report, Fernandina Beach Police Chief James Hurley said this weekend. She was
booked into the Nassau County Jail and bond was set at $15,000. Hurley declined to
release her identity, and a spokesperson at the jail declined to release any information
without the suspect’s name.

A police press release issued Thursday said that the sexual assault was alleged to have
happened May 30. It said the woman had recanted her statement, told police she had
fabricated the story, and “acknowledged having deliberately cast blame at an innocent
individual she identified as a homeless person.”

“Detectives were able to discount the victim’s story through investigative means,” the
statement said. It carried the subject line, ‘Rape at Main Beach “Complete Fabrication.”‘

In a statement to Fernandina Observer this weekend, Hurley said “the chronically
homeless are rarely viable suspects in these types of offenses, unless the victim is also
homeless or destitute. In addition, although it may occur from time to time, victims of
sexual assault do not routinely wait until the next day to report the offense. Despite their
personal trauma most victims now understand the importance of forensic evidence and the need to seek immediate medical attention.”

Hurley said the woman had officially identified the “offender” to police, “apparently to help her create a defense to explain away physical injury. In addition to making identification from a photo line-up, she actually took a cell phone photograph of the individual” and e-mailed it to police, he said.

“Detective Tracy Hamilton did a tremendous job of tracking the “victim’s” movements,
finding an independent witness, and using technology to determine that the report was
false. Her experience as a competent investigator allowed her to patiently work through
the case, without taking the easy route by tossing an innocent man in jail,” Hurley said.

“In my opinion, the story is about competent police work and dedicated city workers doing
their job with great pride and ability,” he said.

The Fernandina Beach News-Leader reported Friday that the woman had denied
recanting her story and “refuted” the Thursday press release “categorically.”  It did not
identify the woman but said she is the mother of three children. The paper has reported
that it was alerted to the case through a call from the woman’s mother.

Filing a false police report according to the website eHow.com is a first-degree
misdemeanor under Florida law, punishable by up to a  year’s imprisonment and up to $1000 fine.

June 17, 2012 1:10 p.m.

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