An Ohio University student senate member has been charged with three counts of “making false alarms.” According to an online publication run by Ohio University students called the New Political, Anna Ayers told the student senate that she received homophobic death threats at both her student senate office and her residence.
According to the Post — a student-run online publication covering Ohio University and the town of Athens, Ohio — Ayers is an Ohio University senior studying journalism. She reported that she received three threatening messages, but the Ohio University police investigated Ayers’s claims and found that she sent herself the threatening messages.
In Ohio, making a false alarm is a first-degree misdemeanor. If found guilty, the student could face a maximum penalty of six months in jail and a $1,000 fine for each instance.
Please see the attached statement regarding charges filed in the recent case of threats made against a member of Student Senate. Since this is a pending criminal case, the police department cannot comment further at this time. pic.twitter.com/ecXABYY5MO
— OhioUniversityPolice (@oupolice) October 8, 2018
Maddie Sloat, the student senate president, spoke to the New Political about the alleged incident. “We are still processing and encouraging our members to take time to heal and utilize campus support resources right now,” Sloat said. “We’re complying with the investigation and OUPD. We hope Anna receives the help that she needs.”
Ayers is far from the first to raise false alarms or accusations. Aesop, a Greek fabulist who is believed to have lived between 620 and 564 B.C., is credited with creating the story of the boy who cried wolf.
In more modern times, according to a report in Psychology Today, psychologists dub a story such as Ayers’s a case of the “Boy Who Cried Wolf Effect.” Those who make up these fabricated crimes are believed to be motivated by a desire for attention, or by neglect from romantic partners.
According to Bonnie Jacobson, a psychologist who’s cited by the Psychology Today article, people who fabricate these crimes may actually believe their stories to be a reality. She adds that they’re similar similar to a person who suffers from a made-up disorder imposed on oneself, formally called Munchausen syndrome.
Gregg O. McCrary, a former FBI agent, says that these crimes are sometimes committed by both men and women to further their political causes. Similarly, Laird Wilcox, a researcher who specializes in the study of political fringe movements, believes that when hoaxes occur on college campuses, it’s often for a political purpose.
It should be noted that most hate crimes that are reported are real, and according to a 2015 study, 18 percent of reported hate crimes were because of a victim’s perceived sexual orientation. The FBI reported in 2017 that the number of hate crimes committed in the United States during 2016 rose for the second consecutive year. The primary targets of these hate crimes were African-Americans, Jews, and Muslims.
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