US & Canada

Texas teenager 'admits rape and kidnapping was hoax'

Breana Harmon Talbott Image copyright Denison PD
Image caption Officials have not explained the motivation for the alleged hoax

Police in Texas are pressing criminal charges against an 18-year-old woman who told them she lied about being kidnapped and raped two weeks ago.

Breana Talbott was arrested after telling police the alleged crime, which she had said was committed by "three black males", was in fact a hoax.

Denison Police Chief Jay Burch called her actions "insulting to our community and especially offensive to the African-American community".

She is charged with false reporting.

Police say they will also seek restitution for the cost of the search and investigation, and are closing the case, calling the reported crime "unfounded".

Investigators say the plot began on 8 March, when a man identifying himself as Talbott's fiance called police to say that she was missing.

The man told officers that her vehicle had been found in the car park of an apartment complex with a door left open and her phone, keys and a shoe nearby.

Image copyright ABC
Image caption Talbott was arrested after confessing to investigators

They began to search the area, and later that night Talbott walked into a nearby church wearing just a shirt, bra, and underwear, and with scratches and cuts on her body.

The woman told church-goers, and later police officers, that she had been sexually assaulted in the woods behind the church by "three black males" wearing ski masks and driving a black SUV.

"Almost immediately, Talbott's story and allegations began to unravel," Chief Burch wrote in a press release.

Officers now believe that she staged the crime, and that she probably acted alone.

She has admitted that the injuries to her body were self-inflicted, police say.

Image copyright ABC
Image caption The woman told church-goers she had been attacked

Officials are puzzled as to why she would have made everything up.

The initial reports of the crime were widely reported online by self-avowed white nationalists, as evidence of crimes committed by black people.

"Even though we know the story to be a hoax, there is still potential damage to the reputation of the City of Denison... as many may remember the reported crime but not the outcome," the Chief Burch said.

"That is unfortunate," he added.

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