A large-scale investigation following a reported sexual assault in Riverside, Illinois has been called off after the accuser recanted her claim to police and admitting to fabricating the attack.
Mary Ann Malik, 47, filed a sexual assault complaint on Nov. 2 alleging that at about 8 p.m. the previous evening she was assaulted in the alley behind her apartment building at 63 Forest in Riverside. Police Chief Tom Weitzel said in a statement that the department immediately responded, moving personnel from existing cases to collect evidence and canvass neighborhoods, and dispatching extra officers to patrol the train station and surrounding areas where the attack allegedly took place.
Weitzel said that Malik was uncooperative during the investigation, failing to answer or return calls from police. Officers repeatedly visited Malik's residence and reported they heard movement inside the apartment, but Malik never responded. Weitzel says the police department repeatedly rescheduled meetings with a forensic artist to sketch the offender, and Malik repeatedly failed to attend scheduled interviews.
Malik's behavior arose suspicion, prompting investigators to visit Malik's workplace in suburban Oakbrook. Malik had originally reported that she was returning to work when the alleged assailant followed her from the train station, according to the release, but investigators were told that Nov. 1 was Malik's scheduled day off, and she hadn't been to work that day. Further study revealed more holes in Malik's story.
"Shortly after the original case was filed, nothing seemed to add up," Weitzel said in a statement. "Through investigation it was learned that not a single aspect of Ms. Malik's original report to the Police Department was factual."
Malik was arrested on her way home from work Monday and charged with one count of filing a false police report, a Class 4 felony, according to the Riverside Police Department.
Weitzel told Fox Chicago that Malik apparently filed the false report after her daughter moved out of their shared apartment, in an effort to convince her that the neighborhood was unsafe and encourage her to move back in.
Weitzel said the community experienced a "heightened sense of fear" following Malik's report, prompting diligent police response.
"It is extremely rare to have someone fabricate charges of this magnitude, but something like this should never discourage genuine victims from reporting a crime," Weitzel said in a statement.