Justice

Texas Teen Indicted Over False Rape Claims

August 1st 2017

By:
Almie Rose

In March, Breana Rachelle Harmon, ran into a church claiming she had been abducted and raped by three black men. It was a lie.

On July 26, the now 19-year-old (also known as Breana Harmon-Talbott) was indicted on felony charges.

The Herald Democrat of Denison, Texas, (where Harmon made her false claims) quoted Grayson County District Attorney Joe Brown's press release explaining why they pressed felony charges against her:

"Ms. Harmon was originally arrested for the misdemeanor offense of false report to a peace officer. 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."

She's been indicted on "on two third-degree felony counts of tampering with physical evidence and a third-degree felony count of tampering with a government record. The fourth charge is a state-jail felony count of tampering with a government record," according to the local news oulet. The Denison police department is also seeking $8,000 in damages.

Harmon could face up to 10 years in prison, The Root reported.

"The three third-degree felonies are punishable by up to 10 years in prison and up to a $10,000 fine," The Root reported on July 27. "The state-jail felony is punishable by up to two years in state jail and a $10,000 fine."

Many people on Twitter believe Harmon deserves an extreme punishment.

Before her claims were proven to be false by Denison PD, her story of being raped by black men was swiftly picked up by the alt-right and used as a cautionary tale, inciting racism.

Her allegations helped further a racist stereotype that black men are aggressive and violent. Furthermore, studies have shown this negative view has been ingrained so deeply that even black boys "as young as 10" are seen as older then they actually are, according to the American Psychological Association. And this is a problem because it paints an unfair view of how black youth are seen in comparison to white children.

Study author Phillip Atiba Goff, Ph.D., explained "children in most societies are considered to be in a distinct group with characteristics such as innocence and the need for protection. Our research found that black boys can be seen as responsible for their actions at an age when white boys still benefit from the assumption that children are essentially innocent."

Slate wrote in 2014, lying about rape isn't common, but "at whatever rate such cases occur, they should not be dismissed as statistical blips: These lies can have tragic results."

Though few are charged to the point of conviction and then jail time, "even without a wrongful conviction, the consequences of a false accusation can be devastating — from a terrifying middle-of-the-night arrest to lengthy pretrial detention."

"This is beyond disturbing. Not to mention despicably racist. And offensive to real rape victims," Mike P. Williams tweeted in March of Harmon's false claims.

As Denison Police Chief Jay Burch said in March of the incident, "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 hurt caused from such a hoax are difficult and all so unnecessary."