A Stanford employee who claimed she was brutally raped on campus twice by a coworker was charged with lying as part of a revenge scheme that also put some cash in her pockets.
Jennifer Gries, 25, faces felony perjury and other charges for the false accusations, the Santa Clara District Attorney announced Wednesday.
Gries Falsely Accused Black Colleague of Rape Out of Revenge
Gries, a Housing Services employee, allegedly made the allegations against her co-worker because she felt he gave her "false intention" and "turned her friends against her," according to court documents.
"Evidence shows that the Gries made up the stories due to being angry at a co-worker," the DA's office said in a release. Gries allegedly told forensic exam nurses in August that an "unknown, late 20s, black male" with a slender build and 6-foot stature attacked her while she was headed to her car inside a campus garage.
"He grabbed both my arms, had me on the ground facing up. He told me not to scream," Gries told investigators. Police issued a campus alert about the reported crime after Gries told her she had previously seen the black man on campus.
Two months later, Gries reported that the same black man grabbed her arm while she was returning to her office from her lunch break and dragged her to a basement storage closet where he again raped her vaginally and anally.
Gries Pocketed Funds Awarded by State Trust for Victims of Violent Crimes
In both cases, Gries was awarded public money through the California Victim of Crimes Board â a state trust that provides compensation to victims of violent crimes. It's not clear how much cash she was eligible for, but applicants can qualify for a maximum of $70,000, program documents show.
Because of the extreme safety risk to the university Gries' allegations posed, investigators prioritized her rape kits and pushed intense security measures on campus. However, no male DNA was detected on Gries' kits, the DA said.
Rape Allegations Sparked Protests on Campus
Police continued to investigate as Gries' alleged scheme unraveled. Cops issued campus-wide electronic alerts, which prompted widespread fear and a protest in October by hundreds of students who accused the university of "protecting rapists" and demanded that authorities do more to safeguard students.
The reports sparked panic across the college community and had students fearfully looking "over their shoulders," DA Jeff Rosen said.
Gries Previously Falsely Accused the Co-worker of Sexual Harassment
An investigation found Gries was describing a male coworker who she had made a sexual harassment complaint against last March. The claims were found unsubstantiated, and she was moved to a different work location.
Gries had a history of lying about her relationship with the man, who was unnamed in the documents. She told another co-worker she was in a relationship with him, but that he sexually assaulted her and left her pregnant with his twins before she suffered a miscarriage â which medical records disproved.
"Can't I just make his life a living hell myself," Gries texted the other coworker about the alleged assault. "I need to start standing up for myself ... I am so annoyed ... I'm coming up with a plan. That way he's sâing his pants for multiple days."
Gries Admitted to Lying About the On-Campus Rapes
Gries eventually admitted to lying about the multiple rapes after she was confronted by a detective â and after Standford spent $300,000 in investigating the case and securing the campus.
She never named the coworker as her false attacker, but Gries refused to rule him out when asked point-blank. Gries has since been placed on a leave of absence, and her employment at the university is under review.
Stanford University Issues Statement
"These false reports are damaging, both for true survivors of sexual assault and for the members of our community who experienced fear and alarm from the reports. We also want to emphasize that both false reports and outcomes such as this one are extremely rare in sexual assault cases," the university said in a statement.
"Sexual assault and other sexual offenses regrettably continue to be prevalent both at Stanford and in our broader society," the university added. "Our steadfast commitment to provide compassionate support for survivors of sexual assault and to prevent these acts from occurring in the first place remains unabated."