A young Texas woman who ran into a church half naked and claimed that she was raped has been indicted on multiple charges related to what turned out to be a hoax.
On Wednesday, 19-year-old Breana Rachelle Harmon, also known as Breana Harmon Talbott, was indicted on two third-degree felony counts of tampering with physical evidence and a third-degree felony count of tampering with a government record. She has also been charged with a state-jail felony count of tampering with a government record, the Herald Democrat reports.
Earlier this year, Harmon ran into a Denison, Texas, church and told the people that she had been kidnapped and raped by three masked black men. At the time she was wearing only a bra, T-shirt and underwear and was bloodied and looked battered—apparently to sell her story, which successfully incited racist backlash all across social media.
Originally she was charged with a misdemeanor, but prosecutors are now deciding to (rightly) throw the book at her.
“Ms. Harmon was originally arrested for the misdemeanor offense of false report to a peace officer,” Grayson County, Texas, District Attorney Joe Brown said in a press release Wednesday. “However, the more we have looked at what happened in this case, and considered the harm it caused, and certainly could have caused, we believe what she did fits these higher charges. What she did was very serious, and we believe it was felony conduct.”
The three third-degree felonies are punishable by up to 10 years in prison and up to a $10,000 fine. The state-jail felony is punishable by up to two years in state jail and a $10,000 fine.
If she had gotten away with just the misdemeanor charges, Harmon would have faced only up to 180 days in jail and up to a $4,000 fine.
According to the Democrat, in addition to the criminal charges, the Denison Police Department is seeking $8,000 in restitution related to the case.
Back in March, the then-18-year-old Harmon told officers that she was raped by two black men in ski masks while a third held her down. Harmon was taken to a nearby hospital for examination, where it was determined that she did not have any injuries consistent with a rape.
Upon further research of the evidence, authorities found that they were unable to confirm Harmon’s story. According to KXII, Denison Police said that the crime scene—from the initial kidnapping to Harmon’s condition when she ran into the church—was staged.
The 19-year-old reportedly admitted that the injuries on her body were self-inflicted.
Denison police said that the case into Harmon’s “rape” is now closed.
“Our team of detectives, led by John Watt, did an outstanding job in the case,” Police Chief Jay Burch said in the release. “Almost from the beginning, we had doubts in Breana Harmon Talbott’s story as the puzzle pieces just weren’t coming together. We were unable to corroborate any of Talbott’s allegations that she had been abducted or sexually assaulted.
“Breana Harmon Talbott’s hoax was also insulting to our community and especially offensive to the African-American community due to her description of the so-called suspects in her hoax. The anger and hurts caused from such a hoax are difficult and all so unnecessary,” the press release continued. “It’s unfortunate a person can falsely report such a major incident in our community that wastes the time of law enforcement and needlessly puts some people in fear. I apologize to those who have current investigations with the department as we delayed those to focus on this case.”
Read more at the Herald Democrat and KXII.