Arresting Tales

Gary Hunninghake, false police reports and desperate people

Iowa physician Gary Hunninghake was charged with felony disorderly conduct yesterday after police determined that he faked an April 24 account of being robbed and stabbed.  The alleged incident took place on the Chicago Riverwalk, prompting both a police investigation and media coverage.  It's one thing to have Chicago residents in rough neighborhoods slaughtering each other on a regular basis; having unknown marauders targeting tourists downtown just won't do.

Hunninghake's injuries on April 24 left him in critical condition, which is not typical in faked cases.  When I heard that he'd been charged my first thought was that it was a suicide attempt, or that he was having some kind of breakdown, and couldn't face admitting the truth at the time.  I'm not surprised to learn now that Hunninghake, a doctor at University of Iowa who makes $360,000 a year, is under investigation for as yet unnamed criminal conduct:

UI police had been investigating Hunninghake since April 22, though UI spokesman Tom Moore said he couldn't release further details of the still-ongoing investigation. He said officers had executed five search warrants between April 22 and April 27.

UI officials had placed Hunninghake on paid leave April 23...
Hunninghake is the most recent affluent, high-powered man who's harmed himself in Chicago while facing potential indictment.  He also appears to be the first one who is not involved in Chicago politics.

Police frequently investigate reports that turn out to be false.  False police reports are generally motivated by a desire to escape responsibility for one's actions, a need for attention, or vindictiveness. 

Most of the fake reports I've seen have been claims of sexual assault and robbery or theft.  The robbery and theft reports were made to account for money spent on gambling, women, drugs or booze (in that order).  I'm not talking about people making a false report to conceal a crime that they committed--I'm talking about people making a false report as part of an elaborate excuse for their own weakness.

I've seen false allegations of sexual assault made out of shame or religious conflict--"I'm a good girl, I couldn't possibly have had 9 Jager bombs and a few Long Island ice teas and gone home with a stranger, I must have been raped!"  I've  seen sexual assault allegations made to get attention from parents and boyfriends.  We've also investigated more than a few cases that involved people who made reports because they needed treatment for an STD or physical injuries they'd sustained during consensual sex, and were too embarrassed to go to the family doctor.

Most of the time, people who make these false reports don't get prosecuted.  In some cases it's an obvious mental health issue, and to prosecute would seem like piling on to an already deeply troubled person.  It helps if we catch the lie early enough that we don't have to spend time and energy investigating it.  If the investigation expands, generates media attention, and creates public alarm, it's more likely the false reporter will be charged. 



A good example would be the case of Audrey Seiler.  In 2004 Seiler, a University of Wisconsin student in Madison, claimed she was abducted at knifepoint.  The investigation cost the Madison Police Department nearly $100,000

Dr. Hunninghake isn't alone in his desire to be a victim.



Philadelphia Police Sgt. Robert Ralston recently shot himself in the shoulder and then claimed he was attacked during a street stop.  He later admitted that he wanted attention, or maybe a transfer.  He's getting both of those things now.



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1 Comment

Moshucat said:

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None of these suits make any sense to me or a lot of others. The CVS incident really takes the cake. She is divorced from him and she refers to her childreen as his "stepchildren" what is she entitled to? Like one reader said its only 50 degrees, what is going to happen when its 80.

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