A Texas woman who lied to authorities about being kidnapped, beaten and raped by three Black men will not serve jail time for her fabrication.
Breana Rachelle Harmon was reported missing in March 2017 by her then-fiancé, Sam Hollingsworth, who told police her vehicle was abandoned “with the driver door open, her phone, keys and a shoe nearby,” according to a statement from the Denison Texas Police Department.
Harmon was later found in a church wearing nothing except her underwear and covered in blood and bruises. She claimed that three Black men abducted her and took her to the woods, where two of the men raped her while the third held her down.
The story prompted outrage on social media. According to the Washington Post, a headline on Reddit read, “Three black man kidnapped and gang raped an engaged 18 year old white girl yesterday. IF THE RACES WERE REVERSED, THIS WOULD BE NATIONAL NEWS. THESE MEN DESERVE TO BE HANGED.”
— Philip Schuyler (@FiveRights) March 11, 2017
“The message board Stormfront, which promotes white-nationalist ideologies, posted a 19-page thread titled, ‘Beautiful 18 year old White girl (who happened to be race traitor) kidnapped and raped by 3 negroes.’ It is unclear why she’s labeled a ‘race traitor,’” the Post reported.
But authorities stated that Harmon’s story quickly fell apart. And the medical personnel who saw Harmon after the incident could not confirm that she had been assaulted at all.
“According to Talbott’s confession, we believe the crime scene — from the initial ‘kidnapping’ scene at the apartment complex to the point of Talbott’s condition when she walked into the church — were staged. Talbott also admitted the injuries to her body were self-inflicted,” police said at the time of the “attack.”
Denison Police Chief Jay Burch told Fox 4 News at the time that not only was Harmon’s tall tale detrimental to the community as a whole, it was “especially offensive to the African American community due to her description of the so-called suspects in her hoax. The anger and hurts caused from such a hoax are difficult and all so unnecessary.”
Harmon pleaded guilty to tampering with physical evidence and government documents.
“The cap is either regular probation or deferred adjudication,” Bob Jarvis, Harmon’s attorney, said to the Herald Democrat. “Of course, we’ll be asking for deferred and they’ll be asking for regular probation.”
According to the Texas-based Law Office of Daniel Lazarine, “the major difference between probation and deferred adjudication, is that there is no conviction of guilt when deferred adjudication is given, whereas probation is generally ordered after a guilty conviction.”
In other words, no time behind bars either way.
Bishop Charles Brown Sr. of New Birth Cathedral of Praise told the Herald Democrat that Harmon’s lie could have proven deadly for the Black community. Stories such as Harmon’s embolden white supremacists to promote their hateful agenda.
“The history of it is a long history; I’m 75 years old and this happened when I was kid when I was growing up — as a teenager,” Brown told the publication. “There were a lot of Blacks accused of a lot of things. The repercussion is that it could ruin anyone of our lives as a minority or as Black people — it could really ruin our lives.”
Hollingsworth, Harmon’s former fiancé, told Fox 4 News after Harmon’s confession that the two are no longer together. They had had a fight earlier on the day of the staged attack but he did not understand why she would fabricate such a story.
“I was hurt. It was hard to take in whenever I found out about everything,” he told the news outlet. “Somebody that I actually trusted and was planning on spending the rest of my life with could do something like this to me and everybody else in this community.”