Wounds a Utah man claimed were the result of hate crimes committed against him in April because of his homosexuality have been found to be self-inflicted, police said Tuesday.
Rick Jones, 22, a cook at his family’s restaurant in the rural community of Delta in the southern part of the state, claimed he was hit over the head one night in late April while alone. He also asserted he was issued a death threat and that an anti-gay slur was carved into his arm while he was unconscious, KSL reported.
But after an investigation, Millard County Sheriff Robert Dekker confirmed the alleged crimes were fabricated by Jones. “The investigation has come to an end today with the admission of (Jones) to having staged all of the incidents,” Dekker told KSL Tuesday. The case has been referred to the Millard County Attorney’s Office for further investigation, but the sheriff would not say whether or not the crimes were a hoax. “We urge community members to continue to be supportive of the Jones family,” Dekker said in a statement.
Advertisement - story continues below
Brett Tolman, the attorney representing Jones, told KSL his client “is accepting responsibility for the incident.” Jones had Tolman call the Millard County Sheriff’s Office to cancel the investigation. Tolman told KSL Tuesday:
At this point we are working with investigators and with the community at trying to point out and recognize that what this really amounts to is a very serious cry for help by an individual … who is gay and is in need of mental health treatment, which he is getting.
People who participated in fundraisers for Jones, online and otherwise, will be receiving refunds, Tolman added. Utah Lt. Gov. Spencer Cox, a Republican, issued an updated statement after he called the alleged attack on Jones “cowardly and barbaric” earlier this month:
I am both relieved and saddened by the news today. The original allegations were incredibly troubling and not representative of the love and compassion the people of Utah exhibit daily. I am proud of the overwhelmingly positive response and support from Delta and every corner of our state. Today, our concern is that the young man and his family receive the love and help necessary to find the peace and healing they seek.
h/t: The Washington Times
Should Mr. Jones be charged? Share your thoughts in the comments section below.