Bethany Storro claimed a black woman had thrown acid in her face August 30. But now she's admitted she did the whole thing herself. The obvious question: why?
According to ABC, police in the town of Vancouver, Washington now say they doubted Storro's story from the start. Says police commander Marla Schuman,
Truthfully there were red flags from the beginning. Initially just the manner of the attack, when she's talking about being splashed in the face with acid and the demarcation, the placement of injuries on her face… the thought that she was wearing sunglasses at 7:30 at night when she normally doesn't wear sunglasses. Just small things that didn't quite add up to a picture of normalcy.
Also, witnesses in the park where Storro claimed she was attacked say she was "clearly alone when she dropped to the ground screaming." Storro — who received monetary donations and was booked on Oprah before doubts about her story started circulating — is apparently "remorseful" about faking the attack, but hasn't explained why she did it. Police won't speculate — Schuman says only, "She doesn't have a criminal history, we didn't have knowledge of any mental issues."
It's possible Storro just staged the attack for attention. She said she was eager to appear on Oprah to "inspire people and tell them about Jesus," so maybe she wanted a platform for her views. Given that Storro claimed her attacker was black, and helped police produce a sketch of a black woman, it's a distinct and disturbing possibility that her story had racist motivations too. Louis Byrd, a black Vancouver attorney, told the Columbian, "What it boils down to is playing to old stereotypes and fears. It's disgraceful." And, said Rev. Joyce Smith of Vancouver's AME Zion Church, "racism is still alive in our little town."
Whatever her motives, Storro has damaged more than her own health and credibility. She made black female citizens of Vancouver feel that they were being watched with suspicion: Vancouver resident Leann Johnson says she avoided dressing like the sketch of the attacker, and adds, "I did feel a sense of personal vulnerability." At least for a brief time, she no doubt stoked racism in Vancouver and elsewhere. And she did a deep disservice to all the women around the world who are really attacked with acid, and whose true stories may now be doubted. Prosecutors are still deciding whether to charge Storro with a crime — hopefully she'll face at least some penalty for what she's done.
Acid Attack Hoax: Red Flags, But No Motive [ABC]
Police: 'Victim' Admits Acid Attack Hoax [UPI.com]
Rumors Of Hoax Surround Acid Attack Victim [AOL]
Fabrication Jars, Saddens Blacks, Downtown Dwellers [Columbian]