Police: Gay man faked hate crime in Iowa City

BY HAYLEY BRUCE | JULY 29, 2011 7:20 AM

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Police have charged an Iowa City man who had reported he may have been the victim of a hate crime with filing a false report.

Ryan Grant Watson, 30, was charged July 27 with providing a false report to law enforcement, a serious misdemeanor.

Watson, a University of Iowa graduate student, had told police he was assaulted June 11.

A June 13 press release said Watson told police he was assaulted by a black male in the alley near Clinton and Burlington Streets sometime before 7:28 a.m.

Watson said the man hit him in the face, causing him to fall back against the wall, sustaining cuts to his face, knee and ankle. Watson also said the attacker yelled a gay slur at him.

The complaint detailing Watson's charge said the report was then forwarded to investigations for follow-up, during which police said they began to question its validity.

Police also said Watson had led several people to believe he had been "horribly assaulted, requiring surgery and hospitalization" and also stated the offense may have been a hate crime after the alleged incident.

The complaint said further investigation and interviews with Watson made it "clear the offense reported did not take place," and the complaint said Watson eventually confessed the report was false.

He allegedly told officers he was still intoxicated when walking in the alley, and he fell and hurt himself.

Watson told The Daily Iowan the situation is more complex than it seems.

"It's more complicated than it appears, and I'm looking forward to resolving it in court," he said.

Iowa City police Sgt. Denise Brotheron said it is not uncommon for a person to be injured downtown while intoxicated and not remember exactly what happened to them.

"Sometimes, people do get that intoxicated, and they don't know, and sometimes you do get people who don't believe they can black out and hurt themselves like that," Brotherton said.

She also said hate crimes are not a common report, but the department looks into them thoroughly.

"The investigation is complete, and everybody has his right to go to court," Brotherton said. "The investigators stand behind their charge, but that's his full right, and we encourage people to exercise their rights."

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