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Reported rape at UC Santa Cruz was a hoax, police say

February 28, 2013 | 12:39 pm

UC Santa Cruz officials said Thursday that campus police officers have determined a reported Feb. 17 beating and rape of a young woman on the campus was a hoax.

The alleged rape had stirred emotions among Santa Cruz residents reeling from a spate of recent high-profile crimes. It was widely referenced after Tuesday’s unprecedented slaying of two plainclothes Santa Cruz police investigators by a suspect in an unrelated misdemeanor sexual assault. The suspect was also killed.

In a statement Thursday, UC Santa Cruz Police Chief Nader Oweis announced that the alleged rape victim has admitted that she staged the attack and fabricated the report. Oweis said other evidence corroborated her admission.

Oweis, who is prohibited from identifying the 21-year-old woman, said the investigation has concluded and the matter will be forwarded to the Santa Cruz County district attorney's office for possible prosecution.

The 21-year-old, who said she was visiting the campus, originally told police she was raped and physically assaulted shortly after noon that Sunday in a remote area adjacent to some classroom buildings.

"The report of this incident has very understandably created a deep sense of unease among UCSC students, staff, and faculty, as well as residents of the Santa Cruz area," he said, adding that his officers, “with a great deal of support from Santa Cruz City Police Department and the district attorney's office, have worked almost 'round the clock on this since the attack was first reported 11 days ago."

Safety measures put into place following the report of the alleged attack -- increased police and security patrols; a nighttime safety escort service on campus -- will continue for the time being, he said, noting that it’s “the right thing to do” given the “spike in violent crime in recent weeks.”

The campus has rescinded the $5,000 reward it had offered for information leading to the arrest and conviction of the alleged assailant.

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-- Lee Romney in San Francisco

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