Calling someone a martyr these days doesn’t carry the same weight as it used to. Being a martyr used to mean having to endure some physical persecution for the sake of others. Now people bandy about the term to describe anyone who does something selfless for selfish and/or passive aggressive reasons. The roommate who cleans the dishes in the sink and holds it over everyone’s head, the stealthy student who completes the group project by himself so that everyone else can party, and so forth. It’s rare to see real martyrdom nowadays, mostly because it never turns out right and is just plain freaky.
Charlie Rogers, 33, is an example of just how bizarre being one can be. Rogers is a lesbian and a former University of Nebraska women’s basketball star who made headlines recently after she crawled to a neighbor’s house in July looking like a severely beaten hate crime victim. At the time, she was covered in blood and had anti-homosexual slurs and a cross carved into her flesh. She claimed three men broke into her home, attacked her, vandalized her house and then tried to set it on fire. Her story made headlines around the country and rallied her community around supporting a local law that would give special discrimination protections to homosexuals. But now police accuse her of faking the whole thing.
Investigators found a string of evidence that contradicted her account. They point to a Facebook post where Roger’s proclaimed she’d do something drastic to “be a catalyst” for gay rights days before the attack. She also allegedly sent a picture of a cross-shaped cut on her chest to a friend and cops discovered she bought box cutters, zip ties, and gloves before the assault. There were also no signs of any struggle, blood, or DNA evidence matching Roger’s version of the events.
Rogers has been charged with filing a false police report. Arguably though, the punishment isn’t too bad considering the heinousness of her supposed lie. In Nebraska, the crime is a misdemeanor and can result in up to a year in jail and/or a fine. A person can be found guilty if it can be shown that they knowingly made a phony police report with the intent to disrupt a criminal investigation. It’s a crime at both the state and federal levels.
In Rogers’ case, the evidence seems pretty damning so far. Based on the current information released to the public, her story appears to have more holes in it than a box of Swiss cheese. Her alleged Facebook post and picture message to her friend alone may be enough to establish her intend to defraud, and that’s usually the harder element to prove in these sorts of prosecutions.
However, Rogers has bigger problems than being convicted for filing a fake report to cops. Generally, the charge doesn’t come alone, especially in a national case like hers. That’s because a goal of the criminal justice system is deterrence, specifically keeping other people from committing similar crimes in the future. Prosecutors often try to accomplish this by loading a suspect up with as many other applicable charges that’ll stick.
And when it comes to filing a false police report, additional charges for obstruction of justice and making false statements to cops can also follow. Should Rogers’ case go to trial and she takes the stand, she could also be charged with perjury if she’s found to have lied under oath. And for those of you keeping score, that last charge is a felony offense.
For now, other than her recent criminal charge, there hasn’t been any indication on what local prosecutors may have in store for Rogers. We’ll have to wait and see. But whether or not Rogers actually lied about her story, in a sense it seems like her apparent goal to raise awareness about homosexual rights was achieved, albeit in a much stranger way than she probably intended.