Utah authorities say Rick Jones, 22, has confessed he staged the hate crimes he had reported
Jones told officers somebody carved homophobic words into his arms
A Utah man who alleged assailants carved homophobic slurs into his arms, robbed his pizza restaurant and firebombed his house has admitted faking the attacks, authorities said.
Now the question is whether Rick Jones, 22, of Delta will be prosecuted for reporting false crimes, Millard County Sheriff Robert Dekker told CNN affiliate KSL.
“The investigation has come to an end today with the admission of Richard (Rick) L. Jones Jr. to having staged all of the incidents,” the Sheriff’s Office and County Attorney’s office said in a Tuesday statement.
Dekker said he didn’t know why Jones staged the crimes. Jones’ lawyer, Brett Tolman, told KSL that Jones asked him to contact the Sheriff’s Office and call off the investigation.
“At this point we are working with investigators and with the community at trying to point out and recognize that what this really amounts to is a very serious cry for help by an individual … who is gay and is in need of mental health treatment, which he is getting,” Tolman said. “I don’t think it was an intention on the part of our client to do anything criminal.”
People who donated money for Jones will be reimbursed, he said, noting that the fundraisers were not Jones’ idea.
In a story that ran on CNN.com in June, Jones said he was first attacked outside his family-owned pizza restaurant and woke up with the words “die” carved into one arm and the word “f*g” in the other. The restaurant was robbed twice and homophobic slurs were painted on the eatery and the home he shares with his parents, he said.
On June 10, a Molotov cocktail crashed through his bedroom window, he told investigators, adding that he used a fire extinguisher to put out the fire before it caused major damage.
Jones got support from the state LGBT community, which visited the family restaurant to buy pizzas. Lt. Gov. Spencer J. Cox issued a statement denouncing the “hate crime.”`
Tolman said he hopes people will not be angry at Jones.
“At this point the most important concern is his well-being,” he said. “And while he’s acknowledging that this is something that he takes responsibility for, it still underscores some of the difficult and rough roads that those in the LGBT community go through.”