Police say Heidi Jones told them on Nov. 24 that a man tried to rape her a month earlier as she ran in Central Park. She said the same man harassed her outside her apartment Nov. 21 at 7:50 a.m. Police went into action, speaking to possible witnesses and canvassing the area for a man matching the description she gave of her alleged attacker. When they went back to her to discuss the case, Jones admitted the fabrication, police said.
Jones, 37, had said her assailant was a Hispanic man in his 30s or 40s, who grabbed her from behind, dragged her into a wooded area and attempted to rape her, the New York Post reported. She told police that the would-be rapist was scared off by two passers-by who came to her aid.
Jones said she concocted the story in a plea for sympathy to counter some unknown setback that she was experiencing in her personal life, according to the Post.
What do psychologists say?
“Some people get a thrill by deceiving smart people,” said Dr. Cynthia Cohen, a research psychologist in Los Angeles who said she had no first-hand knowledge of the case. “It may be that this woman found it thrilling to try to deceive police, who are often pretty good about spotting inconsistencies. It’s an adrenaline rush.”
On the other hand, said Cohen, it’s possible Jones was telling the truth about the attack but decided she didn’t want to pursue the matter.
Jones was given a desk appearance ticket for false reporting and scheduled to appear on court Jan. 15. If convicted of the misdemeanor, she could face a year in prison and fines.
Jones’ attorney, Paul Callan, said his client would plead not guilty.
“Ms. Jones has had a distinguished career as a broadcast journalist and urges all concerned to refrain from jumping to conclusions about the unproven charges against her being discussed in the press,” Callan said.
Jones, who also fills in on “Good Morning America,” has a blog centered on running, where she talks about her love of the sport and her time spent running in Central Park. Her motto, according to the site, is “if you knew you wouldn’t fail, what would you try?”