WABC weather guru, Heidi Jones faces jail for false rape claims
December 16, 2010
[ChattahBox US News] – Being a weather reporter on local TV brings you loads of attention, but for WABC’s weather reporter Heidi Jones it seems that was not quite enough. She has now been arrested and charged with making false claims of rape.
Since joining WABC’s weather department from Texas in 2007, 37-year old Heidi became part of the family. Then on November 24th she told the police a man tried to rape her in Central Park. But on Tuesday the tale fell apart.
“It was an outrageous lie,” one angry WABC staffer told the Post. “All the trust we had is shattered. We feel betrayed.”
Her story was that while she was jogging in Central Park on September 24th a Hispanic man in his 30′s or 40′s grabbed her, dragged her into some bushes and attempted to rape her. But he ran off when two passers-by came to her aid.
The shocking tale soon become “common knowledge” in the newsroom, the insider says, and Jones was the focus of a great deal of concern;
“To the point where security guards would offer to escort her home,” explained the co-worker.
But when she took her claims to the NYPD the cracks soon appeared. Detectives conducted lengthy investigations and scoured the area for witnesses or video proof. When nothing was found they interviewed Jones again – and soon noticed her story was littered with flaws.
Confronted with the numerous defects Jones finally confessed she’d invented the whole thing, but said she’d filed the report because of “personal and professional pressures” and “to get sympathy” for some personal problems.
On Monday police charged the reporter with ‘Filing a false report’ – a Class A misdemeanor. If convicted she faces a year in jail or a $1,000 fine.
Her WABC bosses have also suspended her for the tale and opened their own investigation. Sources there say she is due to be fired.
And by mid-day all trace of her existence at Channel 7 had gone: Her photo disappeared from the walls, and her bio on their web site was down. And on the midday edition of “Eyewitness News,” former co-worker Lori Stokes covered the arrest as just a regular story.
“I’m surprised by this,” said another Channel 7 colleague. “There must be something deeper we don’t yet know about.”
Her lawyer, meanwhile, is in damage control;
“Ms. Jones had a distinguished career as a journalist and urges all concerned to refrain from jumping to conclusions about these unproven charges,” says Paul Callan, who also made it clear that his client plans to enter a plea of ‘Not guilty.’
Photo: WABC Bio Photo