Criminal charges have been filed against UCSB student Morgan Triplett for providing investigators with false information regarding an alleged assault and rape case at the UC Santa Cruz campus.
This past Friday Triplett pleaded not guilty to the misdemeanor charge of falsely completing a police report — a violation of Penal Code Section 148.5 — at a Santa Cruz County Superior Court. The third-year sociology major was presented with the charges after claiming to have been beaten and sexually assaulted while on the UCSC campus searching for banana slugs, according to police officials.
A Santa Cruz court has now ordered that Triplett receive mental health counseling and not use the Internet except for schoolwork. She will return to court on May 23 for a pretrial conference, and could receive up to six months in jail if found guilty.
In her testimony to investigators, Triplett said the incident occurred on Feb. 17, and investigators have now revealed that the 20-year-old UCSB posted two advertisements on Craigslist the night of Feb. 16. The ads were reportedly seeking someone to shoot her in the arm or shoulder and “beat” her, according to court records.
Within weeks of the police report, investigators began to investigate the possibility that the rape and attack were a hoax. Assistant District Attorney Johanna Schonfield, prosecutor for the case, said while the beating and intercourse did actually occur, the facts Triplett provided are false.
“What I will say is that the majority of information she gave was not true,” Schonfield said. “She was beaten, but the whole encounter was arranged online.”
The first Craiglist post seeks out a gun owner who would be willing to shoot Triplett in the arm or shoulder, while promising that charges would not be filed and that she could arrange for compensation to be provided. Another post asks for someone willing to beat her with “punches, bruises, and kicks”.
Upon their arrival to the scene, police took Triplett to Dominican Hospital to treat her injuries, which included bruises to her head and torso. However, she refused to allow hospital workers to take DNA samples from her injuries.
Triplett also provided police officials with information that lead to a sketch of her attacker, which later proved to be false, according to Schonfield, who said the sketch and other false information were the cause of Triplett’s charges.
“Essentially she called 911, the police responded to the fictitious story about the banana slugs,” Schonfield said. “If she had not called the police, then it would not have been called to trial.”
Schonfield said Triplett’s court appearance this past Friday is the first of the court dates included in her arraignment. Next month, Triplett’s attorney and Schonfield will discuss a plea arrangement during the pretrial conference for the case, and if no resolution is reached, the case will go to trial.
Triplett is not currently in custody and was never jailed or arrested for the charges.
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