TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) — A South Dakota woman was put behind bars after she allegedly made a false report of sexual battery in Hillsborough County.
The Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office said its deputies teamed up with a law enforcement agency in South Dakota to arrest Renee Dawn Skoglund, 30, after she allegedly falsified a sexual assault claim.
HCSO said the incident happened on March 8, when Skoglund contacted the sheriff’s office and said an “unknown” suspect sexually battered her. She told the dispatcher that the assault occurred along Interstate 75, north of College Avenue, in the Ruskin and Apollo Beach area.
Skoglund then told authorities that she was blindfolded and tied up with a rope inside her rental car after stopping on the side of the road when a warning light came on.
While investigating, detectives learned that Skoglund was visiting from Sioux Falls and had planned to go home later that day. They later discovered that the same rope was available for purchase at Walmart, and went to numerous Walmart locations to look at security footage.
As detectives were reviewing security footage, they saw Skoglund on video purchasing the rope just eight hours before the alleged attack.
HCSO also recovered video from multiple places she visited near the time of the attack, refuting her initial statements.
Deputies said Skoglund reported the attack to the Sioux Falls Police Department after she returned home and sought medical services, and was confronted with the facts of the investigation.
Authorities said she tried to change her statements before eventually admitting to fabricating the entire incident.
“This case is truly disheartening,” Sheriff Chad Chronister said in a statement. “There are far too many victims faced with this type of trauma. This woman took advantage of our 911 emergency line and diverted attention from actual victims who need the viable resources available in these investigative scenarios.”
The 30-year-old is currently awaiting extradition back to Florida, where she faces charges of misuse of a 911 system, false report of a crime and fabricating physical evidence.
HCSO said they understand the seriousness of sexual assault, and urge anyone with knowledge of sexual battery to come forward and report it.
“We work tirelessly to bring justice to all victims,” the sheriff’s office said.
“We are committed to dedicating significant resources to investigating any crime. I’m outraged by this lie, and I hope that anyone who believes it’s okay to falsify a report realizes the severity of their actions,” Sheriff Chad Chronister added. “I’d like to thank the Sioux Falls Police department and the State Attorney’s Office for their assistance in this case.”