A 15 year old girl will avoid being charged with “false reports to law enforcement,” despite her fabricated report of an attack by four unknown teenage boys on April 9, 2013, in Manchester, York County. The girl reported to Northeastern Regional Police that these four, fictional boys called her derogatory names and groped her, but she managed to fight them off. At the time, she was praised for her “bravery” and for keeping her wits, which allowed her to provide detailed descriptions of the hoodlums. One woman even contacted police, after news of the assault was made public, to report seeing a group of boys in the area around the time of the assault who matched the descriptions.
“False reports to law enforcement” is a crime, which is far more common than most people realize. If the complainant falsely implicates an actual person, it is graded as a second degree misdemeanor, punishable by up to two years incarceration or probation. If the complainant falsely accuses a non-existent person, then the offense is graded as a third degree misdemeanor punishable by up to one year incarceration or probation.
This case has many of the hallmarks of a “false reports to law enforcement” case. Often, the complainant is a child or teenager. The complainant is usually female, which makes it one of the very few crimes, which females commit more often than males. The attacker is often, but not always, a fictional stranger, which the police will never be able to identify and question. There is usually some underlying motive for the false report. When the alleged attacker is a real person, there is usually a revenge motive at play. When the fictional attacker is a stranger, the complainant may be trying to avoid getting in trouble or merely seeking attention. Often the complainant has stayed out past curfew and needs an excuse, while in the York County case, the girl said she was afraid she would get in trouble for “flirting with a boy.” The story tends to have inconsistencies or other holes, which ultimately leads a skilled detective to question its validity. When confronted with the implausibility of the story, the complainant comes clean and admits to making the whole thing up.
The 15 year old girl who made the false report will not be charged in juvenile court. She is currently in foster care, is a previous victim of a real crime, and has all kinds of problems, which can be better addressed outside the juvenile, criminal justice system. If she were an adult, she would not be so lucky. Hopefully, she has learned a valuable lesson.
Matt McClenahen is a criminal defense attorney in State College, PA, who has defended both those accused of “false reports to law enforcement,” as well as those who have been the victims of “false reports to law enforcement.” http://www.mattmlaw.com/Criminal-Defense-Overview/