NORTH PORT — A 15-year-old who girl told police she was sexually assaulted by a stranger now faces criminal charges for filing a false report — one for the reported sexual attack, and another for a report of another battery this week.
The girl — whose identity wasn’t released by police — originally contacted police and told officers she was attacked while jogging in the Landover Terrace neighborhood on Jan. 6.
Police sent her to a medical facility for examination, and then interviewed the girl the following day. On Jan. 8, she provided police with a description of a man she said raped her. She worked with a sketch artist to develop a drawing of the suspect. Police sent out the sketch and a description, which was was printed and broadcast by news media and shared extensively on social media.
On Jan. 9, police also checked the girl’s phone and downloaded data from it. On Jan. 10, they asked the girl’s guardian to bring her to the NPPD for questioning. The girl admitted she made up the story for attention, police say.
That night, the North Port Police Department issued a statement on Facebook and other social media saying the girl had made up the story. “False reports of this nature are not taken lightly and can impact the perception of real reports of sexual battery. Charges in this case will be determined at a later time. Our focus right now is making sure the young woman gets any necessary help. We will continue to investigate all reports such as this with the rigor and respect they deserve.”
On Monday, the girl told police she was again attacked, the NPPD reported.
“(She) reported to responding officers that on Jan. 13 , after she opened her front lanai screen door to let her dog out, an unknown male made contact with her and pushed her inside her home and ran off,” the report states. She said the “next thing she knew, she was waking up to her best friend … calling emergency services.”
Police reported they believe that report to be false as well.
On Wednesday, officers charged the girl with two counts of making a false report to police, both misdemeanor charges.
In regard to the original rape report, officers wrote, “The report of this crime caused great concern to the City of North Port and countless hours were spent investigating this case by a team of detectives. There were extraordinary costs associated with this investigation as well.”
No court date has been set.