Investigators have determined an alleged sexual assault near Sunbury Hall in April never happened.
Police began investigation after a woman reported to police that she had been approached from behind, forced to the ground and assaulted while walking along the path near Sunbury Hall in the early hours of Thursday, April 12. The alleged incident was reported the following day.
Due to significant community concern, the department held a public safety meeting on May 9 that featured a number of police speakers, the mayor, and parks department representatives who outlined safety improvements made in the area.
At the meeting, police also issued an updated news release on the investigation as well as a composite drawing of the suspect.
According to a DPD press release issued this afternoon, police continued to meet with the victim throughout the investigation to gather more information and provide her with updates.
Evidence subsequently came to light that caused police to believe the alleged assault may not have occurred. In a follow-up meeting with the woman she confirmed the incident did not take place, and recanted her statement to police.
“We understand the community was very troubled by news of the alleged stranger sex assault in the park,” DPD public affairs coordinator Cris Leykauf said in the release. “A significant number of resources were dedicated to this investigation. However, our concern right now is that we do not want this news to discourage any other potential victims of sex assault from coming forward. Our investigators will always treat these reports very seriously, and will work with the community to do our best to ensure the public’s safety.”
The press release states that sexual-based assaults by stranger are rare and thus prioritized to the highest level of investigation due to the risk to the public safety. Therefore, due to the seriousness and significant resources deployed for these types of reported incidents, the DPD would like to remind the public that making false reports to the police is a crime and a person may be prosecuted accordingly.
However, the woman who made the false report in this case will not be facing charges.
“Could police resources have been put to better use during this time? Absolutely. And we acknowledge that others who have made false police reports have faced criminal charges such as public mischief. However, due to a variety of factors, investigators have determined it is not in the public interest to pursue charges in this matter,” Leykauf said.