COVINGTON - The woman who police say caused a stir in the community when she reported she was groped by a black man in the parking lot of Newton Medical Center recently has been charged with making a false police report.
"This lady made the whole story up for reasons we don't know at this point," said Covington Police Department spokesman Lt. Wendell Wagstaff. "We want to assure the public that there isn't some guy running around the hospital sexually and inappropriately touching women."
Amber Brand, 21, of 535 Robin Road turned herself in to the Newton County Detention Center on Thursday and was able to immediately post a $1,500 bond and was released.
Brand had originally told police that after her husband was admitted to the hospital, she went to her automobile in the parking lot around 12:30 a.m. March 24 to retrieve an item and noticed she was being followed.
She told officers she asked the man, who she described as wearing blue jean shorts and a white shirt, if he needed something and he came very close to her, groping her upper chest and breasts.
Wagstaff said red flags were raised when Detective Mike Tinsley, who is in charge of CPD's crimes against persons, listened to the details of the woman's story.
"The fact that she didn't holler or scream when she saw two police officers in the area didn't ring true," Wagstaff said. "We reviewed tape on the surveillance camera and could see that what she was saying happened wasn't there. Also, it's not too often you have guys walking around in shorts when it's March and 40 degrees like it was that night."
Under questioning, she admitted she made up the story, Wagstaff said.
Tinsley said that an incident like the woman described is taken very seriously by the CPD and it is the type of case they move swiftly to deal with.
"If we had somebody running around molesting women, we've got to stop that," Tinsley said.
At the same time, when it was discovered that the report was false, Wagstaff said that was also a matter not taken lightly.
"We received phone calls from people concerned over this ... (saying) that could have been me, could have been my daughter," Wagstaff said. "Unfortunately, there was some bad publicity that was out there surrounding the safety of the hospital when it wasn't true at all. For her to pull a stunt like that, we're going to prosecute her for it."
In related crime news, an April Fools Day' joke on a restaurant manager went terribly awry and ended in the arrest of an employee after she and her fellow employees faked an armed robbery.
The Conyers Police Department responded about 10 a.m. Tuesday to the call of an armed robbery in progress at an Arby's restaurant, located at 1625 Ga. Highway 138. Seven officers arrived and were positioning themselves in a perimeter around the area when they were informed that the call was false.
The incident led to the arrest of a restaurant employee who allegedly reported the robbery over the phone to her supervisor. Wilma Jean Terrell, 44, of 1750 Ridge Court, Conyers, was charged with making a false report to law enforcement and taken to the Rockdale County Jail.
According to the incident report, Terrell told police she and the other employees thought it would be funny to call their supervisor and tell her that the store was being robbed.
Terrell allegedly used a co-worker's cell phone to make the call as the supervisor drove up to the restaurant's drive-through window to take the night's deposit to the bank.
"They put us all in the freezer and took all our cell phones except June's," the caller allegedly told the supervisor.
However, Terrell said before she could tell the supervisor it was all a joke, the supervisor hung up and pulled into the Firestone tire store parking lot to call the police.
While the supervisor was talking to the 911 operator, several of the restaurant's employees walked out of the building and waved to her, trying to indicate that the robbery was a joke, the report said.
The supervisor, however, did not find anything funny about what had happened to her. CPD Officer Mike Brown noted in his report that the supervisor was shaken up when she provided a statement.
"When I met with her, it was obvious that she was still upset about the incident and did not take well to the practical joke," Brown said in his report.
Staff reporter Jay Jones contributed to this story.
Barbara Knowles can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.