Female students at two separate universities faced legal repercussions last month after they reported sexual assaults that police say never happened.
In mid-November, a Missouri circuit court judge ordered two years of probation for a Lindenwood University student who pleaded no contest to making a false report, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported this week after reviewing the court records.
In 2014, when Joanna Newberry was 21, she told police she had fought off a man who attacked her in the basement of the university’s library; he had jumped out of the stall where he was hiding, she claimed, and tried to pull off her leggings as she kicked and struggled, she said.
Lindenwood University sent a campus-wide alert about the alleged assault, also initiating an investigation — but five days later, Newberry confessed to police that the attack had never happened.
In another case, on Nov. 18, police arrested an 18-year-old University of Alabama student, Emma Mannion, and charged her with filing a false report.
Just days earlier, Mannion told police that two men had sexually assaulted her in a campus parking lot after forcing her into a red jeep; she even gave law enforcement a description of one of the attackers.
But investigators became suspicious after they pulled surveillance video, which didn’t corroborate the story Mannion had told them; she later admitted she wasn’t telling the truth.
Mannion’s falsified “attack” may not be an isolated incident.
Law enforcement believes one other University of Alabama student may have fabricated a sexual assault, and Gary Hood, a captain at the Tuscaloosa County Sheriff’s Office, said similar charges will likely be filed against that student.
“There are a lot of reasons the people do this,” Hood told the Tuscaloosa News. “A lot of them are not doing well in school and hope that by doing this they can get some help from the university with their grades.”
— Jillian Kay Melchior writes for Heat Street and is a fellow for the Steamboat Institute and the Independent Women’s Forum.