Dec 142012

By Jane Dail

Friday, December 14, 2012

An ECU student’s cooperation with police after lying about an assault on campus this week was among factors that led police to opt against criminal charges.

East Carolina University police have charged students in the past for filing false reports, including a basketball player who made a sexual assault claim in August 2011.

But Lt. Chris Sutton said comparing cases is not fair.

“She was cooperative,” he said. “I know the fact she wasn’t charged and others have been charged in the past may not always be a popular decision and people will continue to be upset … but you have to look at the totality of the circumstances.”

The incident was initially reported to police at 2:11 a.m. Monday by an 18-year-old male acquaintance after the student told him she was assaulted.

Investigators then conducted two interviews with the student, where it was determined that her story was fabricated.

Sutton said investigators did not have to deal with a drawn-out investigation like they may have in the past.

“Trying to compare this with other cases where you might have had a false police report filed and that individual was charged criminally, you’re not really comparing apples to apples,” he said.

“In the second interview we had, it was determined the story did not work with the information she had given us,” Sutton said. “She cooperated with us. If you’re dealing with someone who’s filed a false report and they’re not cooperative and they maintain they didn’t file a false report until a lengthy investigation, that may change the outcome.”

The student faces possible sanctions from the university.

“With this investigation, it became apparent the best course of action was not to charge the individual criminally but to deal with it internally through the administrative procedure the university has,” Sutton said.

Courtney Melvin, a member of the ECU women’s basketball team, was charged with filing a false report of sexual assault in August 2011.

Like this week’s incident, she gave specific descriptions of the attackers to police and also caused the campus to be on alert for sexual predators.

ECU police charged Melvin for giving a false report after a nearly three-week investigation. The charges were dismissed on Oct. 10 according to Pitt County Courthouse officials.

Sutton said he did not feel comfortable commenting specifically on Melvin’s case. He said there were differences between the two.

“I don’t think it’s probably a close comparison other than the fact the reports were made that something happened when it didn’t,” he said.

Contact Jane Dail at or 252-329-9585.

via The Daily Reflector.


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