A Nebraska-based woman who was the victim of an alleged anti-gay hate crime last week is speaking out against naysayers who believe her case was a hoax.
Charlie Rogers, a small business owner who lives openly as a lesbian, told police she was attacked by three masked men who broke into her home and bound her with zip ties before carving homophobic slurs into her skin, dumping gasoline on her floor and lighting it with a match.
In an emotional new interview with KETV-TV, Rogers, 33, addressed those who doubted her claims. "The idea that people think it's a lie is so hurtful. It's understandable," she said, noting that her "world has been changed forever" by the alleged attack. "Intellectually I understand that people have a hard time wrapping their heads around what happened, as do I. But I'm a person, with feelings, with concerns...and it's just so...it feels like a punch in the stomach, like a betrayal."
The Lincoln Journal-Star reported July 25 that investigators had no suspects, but "hadn't ruled out the possibility" that Rogers herself had somehow staged the attack.
Though Rogers' attorney Megan Mikolajczyk said it was "par for the course" for others to question the alleged crime's specifics, she also explained to CNN that her client wanted to clarify that the case was not a hoax. "I don't think it's safe or necessary to point the finger at any one individual," she added.
Last week, friend Erin Thompson confirmed to the Omaha World-Herald that three anti-gay epithets, including the word "dyke," were found carved on the Rogers' arms and stomach. Other friends told local ABC news affilate KLKN-TV that anti-gay slurs were also found spraypainted throughout the Rogers' basement.
Though distraught, Rogers seemed grateful for the conversation her case had created. "When these sorts of things, it ignites fires, and that's a good thing in some ways," she said. "It can also be a very bad thing. I'm not a pawn in a game, I'm a person...I want people to know I'm not afraid. I want other victims to know that it's important to come forward."
She then noted, "For people to think this doesn't happen here, it does. It did."