FALLBROOK, Calif. - Authorities say a woman who initially alleged she was sexually assaulted while pushing a stroller on a trail near Lake Shore Park last month has now revised her account of the incident.
The San Diego County Sheriff’s Department reported Tuesday that investigators do not believe the attack happened as had been initially described.
The victim initially told authorities that on April 23, she was jogging in a path near the park while pushing her 2-year-old child in a stroller when a stranger with a knife jumped out of some bushes and sexually assaulted her. He then allegedly ran away.
However, in a news release Tuesday, the sheriff’s department stated that the woman’s story changed. According to the victim, the attack did not take place on a trail and the alleged suspect did not jump out from behind some bushes. She added that he was not armed with a knife.
She also said that she knew the suspect and he resides out of state.
The sheriff’s department said detectives have identified a person of interest in the case, although it did not confirm if detectives believe an attack in fact occurred, and what those circumstances were.
The sheriff's department Sexual Assault Unit is continuing to investigate.
After Tuesday's revelations, there was relief and anger among some Fallbrook residents.
"You instill this fear into someone and you think that there is a rapist," said resident Stacey Collings, who was clearly upset that the way the alleged assault happened was made up.
"I was more upset at the fact that she discounted what she had said to a point that there are people who have been truly sexually assaulted and raped … and she took that away from women who had that happen in a very traumatic way," Collings added.
She said there has been a lot of worrying and extra precautions taken since the reported attack.
"A lot of people stopped or they did it (walked) in twos … they don't go out at night anymore," said Collings.
The neighborhood was given a composite sketch of the attacker, and 10News even went to a packed community meeting after the reported attack.
"There's a sense of relief, but you can never really be sure anywhere you go. It doesn't have to be here, it can be anywhere," added neighbor Rosemary Workman.
Workman said that what happened pulled the tight-knit community together.
To some neighbors still upset, it may take a while to get over.
"When she did say those things about how vicious it was, it definitely put an imprint in our neighborhood," added Collings. "That's going to take a little bit of time to heal from."