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False kidnapping reports rattle community

11:37 PM, Jul 2, 2013   |    comments
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JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- Two people have falsely reported kidnappings in the past five days.

With the community still mourning the kidnapping and murder of Cherish Perrywinkle, are those false reports now putting the community in danger.

In both false cases, the response was immediate.

A report of a 14-year-old girl possibly kidnapped from Ribault High School Tuesday had police officers on edge.

But within an hour of the first report, the story started to unravel.

"These false allegations are not that unusual," said former prosecutor Richard Kuritz.

He said police walk a tightrope in the minutes and hours after a report comes in.

"It's one of the things you deal with frequently as a prosecutor, or a law enforcement officer, who do you believe," he said.

While most people do not falsely report crime, Kuritz said if a fake victim won't come clean, people can be prosecuted for crimes they didn't commit.

"Sometimes they get so locked in to their story that they don't want to give it up. And it can have serious consequences," Kuritz said.

In the hours after the reported kidnappings last Thursday and Tuesday, the alleged victims quickly came forward to tell the truth after their allegations were made public.

And Kuritz doesn't think it's likley they'll be punished for pointing the finger.

"Most of the time, they let it go. Candidly, they just let it go. They'll get a slap on the wrist," he said.

JSO has not said if they will file charges yet in either case.

First Coast News

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