A UA student has been accused of falsely reporting a sexual assault and faces felony charges, UAPD officials said.
Junior Lindsey Sweetin pleaded not guilty to charges of filing a false police report at her arraignment. A court date was scheduled for Aug. 18.
Police said the false report was made March 9 after 20-year-old Sweetin claimed a man she did not know groped her in the Harmon Parking Garage on Feb. 26. Testimony from witnesses and video camera evidence could not support Sweetin’s claims. After further investigation, she admitted her claims were false.
“Individuals needs to be held accountable for their actions,” said Capt. Gary Crain of UAPD. “In this case, what was reported to the police did not happen, and therefore, just like anyone else who commits a crime, they have to be held responsible.”
This has happened at the UofA before, Crain said.
About a year before Sweetin’s report, another UA student Julia Garcia,18, filed a complaint that she had been attacked in the Garland Avenue Parking Garage. An investigation that included surveillance videos proved that the events never happened. At court, Garcia pleaded guilty and admitted she made up the story.
Garcia’s case received more attention than Sweetin’s because the allegations were more serious. Garcia claimed she was raped, Crain said.
The two false reports will not affect how police handle claims of sexual assault in the future, Crain said.
“In law enforcement and in the legal system process, each case is individual and does not depend upon another case, so each set of circumstances is its own investigation,” he said. “The police department will not be skeptical toward any student and future allegations because of this case. They will collect evidence and determine the facts.”
Students should be truthful when reporting to police, Crain said.
“Someone who has been a victim of a crime should report it, and someone who has not been a victim of a crime should not be making things up and reporting them to the police department,” he said.
Despite this case, victims should not be afraid to reach out to police because each case is investigated without bias, Crain said.
“We want everyone to know that this case is one case, and we’re not looking back at something else that happened at a different time and trying to compare them,” he said. “We go with information we have at that complaint.”