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Woman who claimed abduction allegedly changes story

 The Attorney General’s office and the Criminal Investigation Division with the Department of Public Safety are considering filing criminal charges against a 21-year-old female for making false statements to police. The woman, who went missing for more than six days, told police that she had been kidnapped and drugged.

Commander of the CID, Captain Lavata’i Ta’ase Sagapolutele told Samoa News that an around the clock investigation was launched after police received the missing persons report on May 8, five days after she had disappeared. When the girl returned to her family on May 9, the CID Captain said she claimed that a man held her captive, whom she alleged had tied her hands while she was blindfolded and performed sexual acts upon her.

He added that the missing persons report filed with police by the family said the girl went to the movies on May 3, 2012 and did not return home. However, five days later, on the same day the missing person’s report was filed, the girl’s mother received a call from her daughter claiming she had been abducted and the next day the daughter turned up at home.

The CID Commander said, “The CID conducted a thorough investigation into the allegations and the investigation is now complete.” He said while the girl was in the hospital detectives interviewed her and visited every possible site the officers believed could be where the incident started, however everything “hit a brick wall.”

Police officers were keen on getting the suspect after the girl claimed she was blindfolded when she was taken into the vehicle and later dropped off near her residence.

He added that after going through the evidence multiple times, the officers then started to suspect the girl’s story was false.

“All the evidence that was gathered led to a non substantial claim,” said the CID Commander.

“We took every step we could with this investigation and we went back and forth to determine if we had missed any evidence. However, after going back and forth with this case, we approached the complaining witness again.”

The CID commander said that the officers questioned her again, and it is alleged that she told them that she had made the story up because she was scared of her family, after being gone five days.  She allegedly told the officers she had been staying at a friend’s house in the eastern district.

Captain Sagapolutele said it's illegal to file a false police report or falsely report an incident that warrants a police response.

“This is a particularly heinous crime if someone reports a false complaint, because police officers also put their life at risk when responding to calls or fulfilling their duties.”

“Filing a false report with police is also a diversion technique to cover up your own crime,” Sagapolutele said.

However police officers are responsible for checking out the validity of each complaint and prosecuting those behind it.

Sagapolutele explained that if an officer is dealing with a false accusation, that's one less cop patrolling for real criminal activity.

He also said that when the alleged victim files a complaint with police, the suspect’s name might appear in a police report, which can be especially damaging if the person is accused of a sex crime.

He added that the initial complaint could be reported in the media with no guarantee that readers will see the next report, noting that the alleged suspect had been falsely accused, or that the suspect's accuser was subsequently charged.

These are the consequences anyone who files a false complaint has to know, he said.

Deputy Attorney General Mitzie Jessop Folau told Samoa News they are looking into this case, however it is a delicate situation.  Efforts to obtain a statement from the girl in question were unsuccessful as of press time.