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RIVERSIDE, Ill. (CBS) — A Riverside woman said she was raped near a Metra station last week, setting off a massive police search and putting a neighborhood in fear.
But as CBS 2′s Pamela Jones reports, the woman’s story unraveled and police discovered she made the story up to persuade her daughter to move back into her apartment.
Mary Ann Malik, 47, has been arrested and charged with one felony count of filing a false police report.
LISTEN: WBBM Newsradio’s John Cody reports
“She said that she believed she was followed, either from someone on the train or at the train depot itself,” Riverside Police Chief Tom Weitzel said. “Either way, she said from that platform, she believed that she was followed to her address, which is about a block away, and then assaulted in the rear of her residence.”
Malik said she was hit over the head and then sexually assaulted in an alley behind her apartment building in the 0-99 block of Forest Avenue, less than a block from the train station.
But police now say nothing happened at all. They say Malik filed a false report in a ploy to get her daughter to move back in with her.
“We’re still trying to figure out, you know, how could someone do that?” neighbor Paul Marsala said.
That’s how a lot of residents and others in Riverside were reacting Tuesday after finding out Malik made the whole thing up.
The story pushed a lot of worried neighbors to beef up security.
“My girlfriend’s garage is right here. First thing I did was come out and lock her garage,” said neighbor Eric Mutter.
“We had electricians out here, we’re throwing up lights, everyone’s making sure bulbs are going on,” Marsala said.
Police said they got suspicious when they tried to call Malik and she wouldn’t return messages and she wouldn’t answer the door for police at her apartment.
People who ride the Metra train that stops in Riverside said they can’t believe Malik’s bad behavior.
“It’s actually kind of scary that somebody would make up a lie, especially coming off of the train each and every day Monday through Friday. It is a little nerve-wracking. And then to find out that a woman would make such a story up.”
Police said they do not want Malik’s false claims to discourage actual crime victims from contacting police.
“I would not want to see true crime victims and then other sexual assault victims not come forward because of what they see in this case,” Weitzel said. “This is rare. The entire story was fabricated.”
Malik was free on $5,000 bond on Tuesday, but her legal troubles are far from over. If convicted, the felony charge she faces could net a sentence of as much as three years in prison.