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Alert Carolina sends notification about a false sexual assault report

Students received an Alert Carolina message Monday about a falsely reported sexual assault because the Department of Public Safety wanted to assuage heightened concerns about the issue.

Students and the campus community received an informational message in an email that said a non-UNC student had falsely filed a report about an alleged April 6 assault.

The email said an alert about the incident was not immediately sent to students because DPS didn’t think there was a threat to campus.

Randy Young, spokesman for DPS, said an alert would have jeopardized the case.

“It compromises our ability to conduct an investigation or identify, locate and take into custody a person of interest,” he said.

Young said the email explained why an alert was filed about a false claim.

“Given the current campus raised levels of concern (about sexual assault), we wanted folks to see why we didn’t issue the alert because no threat existed and the report was false,” he said.

Young related the false report to a situation in 2011 when UNC student Quinn Matney falsely reported that he was the victim of a hate crime. Students were notified of the false report because of the publicity the case had received — similar to recent public concern about sexual assault, Young said.

Young said he wants students to understand that sometimes alerts are delayed because the threat is not imminent.

He said that is why students were not notified through Alert Carolina about reported vandalism in McIver Residence Hall until a week after it happened.

“The acts of vandalism were widespread in their scope and reflected that it was not a threat to any individual or any organization within the University community,” he said.

Freshman Otis Skipper said he thinks it’s best students receive alerts about false reports than hearing nothing.

“While a false sexual assault report is not like, ‘Hey, there is a shooter on South Campus,’ it is something that we should be aware of.”

But freshman Taylor Watts said he thinks it’s pointless to send alerts about falsely filed reports.

“If I call the fire department and say there is a fire, and they come out here and there is not a fire, it’s not news.”

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