North Port woman who reported rape charged with filing false report

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A sketch based on Tonya White's description of the suspect.
A sketch based on Tonya White’s description of the suspect.

NORTH PORT, Fla. (WFLA) – North Port police say a woman lied about being raped in the middle of a neighborhood. Her report sent police and investigators on a wild goose chase and now she’s facing criminal charges.

Police say Tonya White, 41, of North Port reported to authorities on Sept. 5, 2015, that she had been raped.  

In September 2015, the woman claimed she had been raped in the middle of a neighborhood in broad daylight.

She described a man in a white car pulled over, forced her into the back seat and raped her. There was a creepy looking sketch that was made of the alleged suspect and news crews covered the story.

“We have to take it seriously and we did,” said North Port Police spokesman Josh Taylor.

Because of a state backlog, it took months to receive the results from her rape kit. In the meantime, police detectives invested time and resources in this case. After a nearly year-long investigation, officials determined the woman, Tonya White, had fabricated the whole thing.

“People who come forward and do this really hurts the entire system,” said Taylor.

Police say White was dodgy for a while and then changed her story, saying she had consensual sex with a man and was later attacked by someone else in the neighborhood. Shirley Wetzel was alarmed when the story first came out. Now she’s mad.

“I can’t even imagine why she would do something like that,” said Wetzel. “Lying outright or making up accusations is ridiculous.”

8 On Your Side confronted White at her home.

“I have no comments, I can’t believe that [The police is] pressing charges against me because I was attacked….I didn’t lie,” White said.

Police want people to learn a lesson from this. They say stories like this one hurt the credibility of actual rape victims.

“There are a lot of folks who don’t come forward and report things when they really do happen,” said Taylor.

Police departments like this one have limited resources, and the state has such a backlog of rape kits that it’s a shame that time had to be wasted on this. And a community had to be needlessly terrified.

“We have plenty on our hands in the real world to deal with,” said Taylor.

White now faces a criminal charge of falsifying a report to law enforcement. She’s been summoned to meet with a judge later this month to answer for her crime.

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