Omaha Gay-Rights Group Seeks Return of Donations
An Omaha gay-rights group is seeking the return of some $1,800 donated to a woman convicted of lying about being attacked by masked men who carved anti-gay slurs into her skin.
Beth Rigatuso, president of Heartland Pride, said the money was given to Charlie Rogers at a candlelight vigil held on her behalf last July.
Rogers, a former University of Nebraska basketball player, told police earlier that month that three men broke into her Lincoln house and assaulted her. But police say Rogers faked the attack because she thought it would inspire change in the treatment of gay people.
Rogers was sentenced last month to a week in jail and ordered to repay more than $10,000 given to her following reports that she had been attacked, which she handed over to the court days after her sentencing.
Chief Probation Officer Gene Cotter was tasked with divvying up the money among donors he could track down and using the money to reimburse the Lincoln Police Department for forensic work on the case, the Lincoln Journal Star (http://bit.ly/12k3fl3 ) reported Saturday.
Since then, Cotter has paid $1,265 to nine donors he could identify and $1,725 to police for crime scene photos, DNA and blood tests and the work of a forensic pathologist.
The remaining $7,200 went to Santa Cop, a police charity that gives gifts to some 4,000 children each Christmas.
This week, Cotter told Rigatuso he wasn’t aware of the Heartland donation, but said he’d see if he can redirect $1,800 from Santa Cop to the organization.
"I just want to do what’s right for the people who have questions about what’s happening to their money," Rigatuso said.
Heartland Pride’s board will decide what to do with the money if it is returned, she said.