On Wednesday, Khadija Altamimi, an 18-year-old student at the University of Louisiana at Lafayette, reported to the police and university officials that she had been beaten, robbed, and had her hijab torn off by two men, one of whom wore a “Trump” hat.
Then, on Thursday, the Lafayette Police Department came forward with a new statement, in which they claimed Altamimi’s story had been fabricated, without offering further explanation.
The Advocate reported on Friday that the Lafayette Police Department had not only subsequently ended their investigation into Altamimi’s case, but had also issued her a misdemeanor summons for criminal mischief, which carries a penalty of up to $500 or 30 days in jail.
Rather than carefully weigh the police’s claim against that of Altamimi, who has yet to respond to these latest allegations, several outlets went right ahead and wrote that she had lied, based on the word of the police alone.
The Associate Press, for instance, topped off their brief story on Altamimi’s case with the headline, “Louisiana student who lied about assault, issued summons.”
Compare the Washington Post’s linguistic treatment of Altamimi’s account in their original post about her assault allegations [emphasis mine]:
“[A] female student at the University of Louisiana at Lafayette claimed to have been beaten, robbed and had her hijab ripped off by two men, one of them wearing a white “Trump” hat, police and university official’s say.”
To their treatment of the revised police account:
“A student at the University of Louisiana at Lafayette fabricated a story that she was attacked and had her hijab ripped off, police say.”
I do not know the truth of this matter better than anyone else. Regardless, what I do know is that women rarely lie about assault and chronically underreport. I know that reports of hate crimes against Muslims have proliferated since the election of Donald Trump and were on the rise well before. And I know there is no reason why a woman’s claim of having been assaulted should be regarded with greater suspicion than the words of a police department that has opted to seek retribution against her.