Was a Female Rape Victim Charged After Stalking Her Attacker with a Potato Peeler in Conway, SC?

A recent news story got quite a lot of buzz in the Myrtle Beach area with a headline announcing: “Female Rape Victim Charged After Stalking Attacker and Stripping the Skin Off His Genitals with Potato Peeler.”

Wow! I thought. Just… Wow! Did that really happen?

Like a real-life version of The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, the article states:

A 37-year old woman in Conway, South Carolina who was the victim of a rape earlier this year has been charged for a revenge attack, in which she stalked her rapist and then assaulted him with a potato peeler, stripping the skin off his genitals.

Early yesterday morning, it is alleged the woman broke into the man’s property and knocked him out before restraining him to his bed with cable ties. She is then said to have taken a potato peeler and used it to remove the skin from his penis & testicles.

Before the carefully-planned kidnapping and genital mutilation, the man’s rape charge was dismissed. Reportedly, the woman refused to cooperate with prosecutors leaving them no choice but to dismiss the case against the man.

Why?

Because she could not exact her revenge if he is in jail, of course. She wanted him to walk and remain free so that she could take her own vengeance – a few months in jail and a probationary sentence was not Justice. A carefully wielded potato peeler, though…

But, really? Was a rape victim charged after stalking her attacker? As it turns out, it was fake news.

A Female Rape Victim Did Not Stalk her Attacker and Mutilate His Genitals in Conway, SC

Not as far as I know, anyway – this story is decidedly fake.

First of all, the “news site” that it appeared on was not a local news site. (I’m not linking to it, because it also contains NSFW images in its advertisements and I’m not sure if your computer will be attacked if you visit the site).

When I looked for the story on legit local news sites, I found this article confirming that the fantastic Girl with the Potato Peeler story is fake.

Horry County Police Department and Conway Police Department have both confirmed that it didn’t happen, and they have no records of any such assault:

“Nothing in our records or on our radar. Everything I have seen and heard indicates it is a hoax,” HCPD spokeswoman Mikayla Mercer said.

Wpde.com points out other red flags that indicate the story (and website) are not legit:

  • There are three major news outlets in the Conway/ Grand Strand area – this was not one of them;
  • The website itself was not focused on a single geographic area;
  • The site uses a cheap WordPress theme and is registered to a low-cost domain host – media websites tend to be a bit higher quality than this;
  • The website contains misspelled words;
  • There is no “About” or “Contact” section on the website;
  • The article doesn’t name any sources other than the generic “prosecutors;” and
  • Most of the articles on the site were over-the-top scandalous and related to sex.

Why would someone create a website and fill it with “fake news” articles?

What is Fake News?

We’ve heard quite a bit about fake news in the past couple of years. What is it and why is it a problem?

“Fake news” is:

  • Stories that are demonstrably false that are published or circulated by individuals, organizations, governments, admittedly “fake news” websites, and even mainstream news media; or
  • Any news report that is critical of the President of the United States or politicians who follow his playbook…

Why would people spread false or misleading information packaged as “real news?”

I think it can be summed up in three categories:

News Satire

Satire or parody news is not intended to harm anyone (arguably) or to be taken as true. Instead, it is intended to be understood as fake or purposefully exaggerated with the goal of comedy, to make a point to viewers, or both.

For example, check out Saturday Night Live’s long tradition of spreading fake news on their Weekend Update, or one of my favorites, The Onion.

To Cause Harm

The “fake news” that caused an uproar during America’s 2016 elections falls into this category.

The most harmful form of fake news ignores or distorts the truth:

  • Attacking political opponents;
  • Stoking racial or other divisions for political or other purposes;
  • Spreading disinformation for political or personal gain; and
  • Dissemination of propaganda for a government, a political party, or other group.

To Make Money

I’m pretty sure the article about the Conway rape victim who mutilated her attacker’s genitals with a potato peeler falls into this category.

Clickbait articles make readers feel compelled to click on the link that appears in their social media newsfeed – it’s interesting, different, fascinating, or a topic that affects them personally.

It may be outrageous – something that is so shocking you just have to click on it and read the rest of the story. Something like a rape victim who refuses to prosecute so she can stalk her attacker…

How does this make money?

  • Advertisers pay for their ads to appear on websites – they pay-per-click, or they pay per impression (each time their ad appears), but, either way, more visitors to the webpage = more advertising revenue.
  • Clickbait, which may include fake stories or stories with misleading headlines, can also drive visitors to an otherwise legitimate website, increasing their readership (for blogs or media organizations), sales revenue (for online stores), and advertising revenue (see above).

How Do We Solve the Problem of Fake News?

We don’t.

Although social media sites and tech companies that can make a difference have an ethical obligation to do everything possible to control the flood of fake or misleading news, it’s just not possible to completely stop it in a society where we value freedom of speech, freedom of the press, and prohibition of prior restraint.

Fake news has been around since ancient times, serving the same purposes of character assassination and political warfare. It will most likely be around in new and different forms for as long as there are humans.

For you and me, the answer is to educate ourselves, our friends, and our children on how to identify fake or misleading news when we see it.

  • If a questionable article appears in our newsfeed on social media, look at the source of the article before clicking on it;
  • If you don’t recognize the source, go to your web browser and search for the subject or title of the article;
  • Check websites like Snopes.com for hoaxes;
  • If the information you are reading is questionable, double-check it with other sources – if it’s a bombshell and no one else is writing about it, it’s probably not legit;
  • Look at the sources that are cited by the author of the article – if there are none or if they are questionable, that’s a red flag; and
  • Think critically about the structure of the article and how the information is presented – the bias of the author is often readily apparent in the language they use.

If you see a misleading article or headline from your local media outlet’s Facebook page or website, call them on it in the comment section.

If you see friends or family resharing fake or misleading news, call them on it politely and make sure that they understand how to spot fake or misleading information.

Don’t reshare fake or misleading information, regardless of whether it fits with your political views, and protect yourself by not clicking on, commenting on, liking, or resharing “clickbait” that may infect your computer with viruses.

SC Criminal Defense Lawyer in Charleston, SC

Charleston criminal defense attorney Grant B. Smaldone focuses on state and federal criminal defense cases in the Charleston, SC area.

If you have been charged with sexual assault (or assaulting your attacker) in Charleston, SC, call now at (843) 808-2100 or send a message to speak with a SC sex crimes and criminal defense lawyer today.


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