BERTHOUD, Colo. (CBS4) – Many people in the town of Berthoud are feeling vindicated after news of a hate crime turned out to be based on a false report.
For weeks, police and FBI agents in Northern Colorado have searched for four alleged white supremacists accused of attacking a black German exchange student and carving an “11” in her forehead.
On Friday Berthoud police found out the teen had made up the story.
“What she was saying was credible, but (officers) knew there was something missing,” said Berthoud Police Chief Glenn Johnson.
Johnson said the teen finally broke down in front of police and that the incident that led to the teen getting the scars was a “self-inflicted” situation. It apparently happened many years ago in her native Germany.
Outside the Laughing Ladies Quilting store in the town on Monday, resident Gina Archuleta shared her relief with CBS4.
“I feel glad that it is nobody in our town and none of our kids that did this,” Archuleta said.
Berthoud High School Principal Chris Garcia echoed those sentiments when discussing the incident with CBS4 on Monday.
“We’re thankful in that we can kind of vindicate the community in the fact that we’re a good place to be and a good place to raise kids,” Garcia said.
Teen Rachel Ehnert knew the teenager who made the report. She said she’s hoping her friend will get help and that the town will recover from the false accusations.
“Berthoud is a sleepy little town and it’s known for being a close knit community and when that happened I think a lot of people were really scared. I think it put a bad mark on the town. Now that we know it’s not real, I think it clears the air a little bit,” she said.
Johnson said the teen’s father flew in from Germany over the weekend and brought his daughter back home. The chief said the teen will not face any charges in connection with the case.
“No, we’re not interested in prosecuting,” he said.
The teen’s host family in Berthoud also spoke with CBS4 and said they feel bad for her, and hope she gets the help she needs.