Trail attack deemed fake - student arrested
A reported rape on the Lake Zwerner reservoir trail has been deemed a fake by Lumpkin County Sheriff’s Office investigators.
And it’s resulted in the arrest of Rebekah Lim, 19, who was picked up at her Dahlonega apartment and charged with felony false statements on Monday.
“All evidence gained during the investigation showed that Ms. Lim had falsely reported that she had been raped on the reservoir trail,” stated a press release from the LCSO. “”And [it] further indicated that she was never at or on the reservoir trail during the time she alleged the crime had occurred.”
The reported stranger-to-stranger attack, which was supposed to have occurred the evening of May 24, rattled residents, kept authorities on alert and attracted the attention of the Atlanta media.
The University of North Georgia student reportedly described her attacker as a white male with brown hair and a beard.
An intense local investigation followed.
“Due to the nature of the alleged crime, investigators continued working intensely on this case over the next several days,” read the report. “Investigators were unable to locate any evidence, suspects, or witnesses to indicate the crime had taken place as Ms. Lim alleged. On the contrary, evidence showed that the crime could not have possibly taken place as Ms. Lim alleged.”
During the investigation, deputies studied video surveillance footage of Lim on the Public Square and on UNG campus while comparing the footage to the student’s cell phone logs.
The LCSO also recruited a local jogger to make the reservoir run to see if the trip around the Lake Zwerner trail was possible in the reported time frame.
It wasn’t, said Investigator Chris Pfrogner.
“It basically made it impossible for it to have occurred the way she said it did,” he said.
Pfrogner added that it is still unclear exactly why Lim might have made the alleged false report.
“We don’t know 100 percent what drove her to make this claim,” he said, “There was some talk about an ex-boyfriend but we’re not really sure. … It definitely got a lot of attention though.”
SETTING THE RECORD STRAIGHT
Pfrogner said Lim might not have been aware of the severity of her claim.
“I don’t think she realized how much attention it would attract or that we will prosecute people for this,” he said. “We’re now figuring up the amount of man-hours involved in this and just the general anxiety and fear to the community it caused.”
Officials had doubts about the report early on but, out of caution, continued to investigate the case as though the attack had actually happened.
“Not being able to corroborate certain things she stated caused some doubts,” said Pfrogner. “But it wasn’t enough to say it didn’t happen. If you’re wrong and it really did occur and we didn’t notify the public of the possibility of danger that would be pretty bad and poor judgement on our part. So we went for a while pursuing it as though it actually happened until every bit of evidence from the investigation showed it didn’t happen.’
On Monday, Lim was approached by officers at her Dahlonega residence and presented with a warrant for her arrest. She is currently at Lumpkin County Detention Center with a set bond of $5,200.
Lim reportedly admitted to investigators to fabricating some of the aspects of the attack, but not the entire event.
Following the arrest, Pfrogner issued a long awaited press release and was met with almost immediate calls from Atlanta news stations.
“It’s just letting folks know that it didn’t happen,” he said. “A stranger to stranger rape is very rare nationwide and it’s something that has very rarely ever occurred in Lumpkin County. We just want to get the information out as much as we can to let people know, you have to be careful at all times, but there’s not a rapist running around Dahlonega.”
Sheriff Stacy Jarrard concurred.
“I would like the community to know that the reservoir is still a safe location to spend time,” he said. “… I would like to ease people’s minds that we still live in a good community.”