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UPDATE : Student who lied about being attacked charged - KATC.com | Continuous News Coverage | Acadiana-Lafayette

UPDATE : Student who lied about being attacked charged

Posted: Updated:
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LAFAYETTE -

UPDATE:

According to Lafayette Police, the student, who fabricated the story about being robbed, is now facing a charge of filing a false police report.

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A day after she reported it, police say a woman made up a story about being assaulted by a man wearing a Trump hat. 

The woman called police Wednesday to say that two white men, one wearing a Trump hat, hit her several times, screamed racial slurs at her and stole her wallet and hijab. Lafayette police have been investigating the incident as an armed robbery and hate crime.

However, Thursday afternoon police issued a terse statement, saying that she had admitted she made up the story. The incident is no longer under investigation, police said, but no decisions have been made as to whether the woman will face charges for her false report. 

The woman, described by police as an 18-year-old student at UL, became the focus of stories around the world as other reports came in of assaults, graffiti and other incidents with racial overtones that are occurring across the nation. 

Police said they had no witnesses or nearby surveillance video to corroborate her story, so they were working only with her statement. 

"Basically, all we have is her statement," spokesman Karl Ratcliff said. "At this point, there's not really much else we can do with it."

The department's initial report indicates the offenses in the case were being investigated as armed robbery with a weapon and hate crimes.
    
The university's police department issued a statement notifying staff and students about the student's reported attack. Sgt. Billy Abrams with the UL Police Department says the department has added extra patrols in campus in the wake of the incident.

UL Lafayette President Dr. Joseph Savoie sent a message to the campus following the election that read in part "University campuses are places where men and women of all races and religions should be able to exchange ideas and learn from one another.  We grow as human beings by listening to others who have different backgrounds and experiences. The University strives to provide an environment that nurtures healthy discourse.

Today messages of love and acceptance began appearing throughout the university.  Some of them include "Love Trumps Hate", "You matter to me", and "Hate is not the answer".

The ACLU of Louisiana released the following statement on the incident, condemning the attack.

"We call on all Louisianians to reject anti-Muslim bigotry. Muslim Americans and residents have the same rights that we all do: to practice our religion freely and openly, to live and work without fear, and to participate equally in public life," the statement said.

After learning of the recent police release, the ACLU issued the following statement: 

The Lafayette Police Department has announced that it has dismissed its investigation of an anti-Muslim attack after the victim recanted her story. We don’t know the full story of what happened yesterday, and we don’t know what caused her to recant.

What we do know:  Threats, harassment, and violence against Muslim men and women, as well as people of color, immigrants, and LGBT people, have been occurring across the nation in recent days. This is not a coincidence.

We stand by our call for all Louisianians to reject anti-Muslim bigotry. Our Muslim neighbors’ rights remain unchanged.  We will continue to speak out against this harassment and bigotry, and call for equal protection under the law."

The Lafayette attack is one of two similar incidents reported on Wednesday.

Authorities at San Diego State University in California say two men attacked and robbed a Muslim female student who was targeted because of her faith and comments she made about Donald Trump's election.  Officials say the assault happened in a parking garage.  The victim was wearing traditional Muslim clothing, including a hijab, when she was attacked.  The suspects stole the victim's car keys, and her car was later reported missing.

The victim in the San Diego incident was not hurt.  Police are investigating the case as a hate crime.

The first ACLU of Louisiana statement is as follows:

The ACLU of Louisiana is outraged at the news of a young Muslim woman being assaulted and robbed of her hijab in Lafayette yesterday morning. The report that her attackers also shouted slurs and wore Donald Trump clothing is especially troubling in light of Mr. Trump’s frequent use of anti-Muslim rhetoric on the campaign trail.

We condemn this rhetoric and this behavior. We call on all Louisianians to reject anti-Muslim bigotry. Muslim Americans and residents have the same rights that we all do: to practice our religion freely and openly, to live and work without fear, and to participate equally in public life. To act otherwise is in direct contradiction of the values enshrined in our founding documents and our laws.

Here is the complete text of UL President Joseph Savoie's message: 

Yesterday’s election ended a long, contentious presidential campaign that was stressful to many Americans.

Differences of opinions about future governance of our country have strained relationships between friends, family members, and neighbors.

But America still rests on a foundation that gives its citizens the right to free speech and the right to vote. Regardless of whether we agree with the outcome of the election, we can still respect the process that’s used to choose our leaders.

With the election behind us, we must now concentrate on trying to find common ground that will enable us to move forward – together – as a nation.

This moment in history reminds us of the importance of higher education. Education is the most effective weapon we have to fight prejudice and to open minds that are closed.

University campuses are places where men and women of all races and religions should be able to exchange ideas and learn from one another. We grow as human beings by listening to others who have different backgrounds and experiences. The University strives to provide an environment that nurtures healthy discourse.

I encourage you to take advantage of resources available on our campus that can help you contribute, in your own way, to a better future.

Both candidates made observations after the election that we can all agree on. President-elect Donald Trump said, “Now it’s time for America to bind the wounds of division... No dream is too big, no challenge is too great.” And, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said: “If we stand together and work together with respect for our differences, strength in our convictions, and love for this nation, our best days are still ahead of us.”

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