Former basketball standout says hate crime happened

2012-07-27T14:30:00Z 2012-08-21T15:58:12Z Former basketball standout says hate crime happenedBy JONATHAN EDWARDS / Lincoln Journal Star JournalStar.com

The 33-year-old lesbian who told police she was brutally attacked spoke to an Omaha television station Thursday.

Charlie Rogers spoke with KETV, Omaha’s ABC affiliate, saying the attack changed her life.

“I’m not hiding from this anymore,” she said. “My world has been changed forever.”

Rogers told police three masked men broke into her house early Sunday morning, bound her with zip ties and carved anti-gay slurs into her skin before trying to light her house on fire.

Through her attorney, Rogers has declined interview requests from the Journal Star.

Police are investigating the reported attack as a hate crime, but have been unable to rule out that Rogers’ report is a hoax. They have no suspects.

“Investigators are aggressively pursuing all leads,” police said Friday.

They encouraged anyone with information to call 402-441-7660 or email lpd801@cjis.lincoln.ne.gov. Those who want to remain anonymous can contact Crime Stoppers at 402-475-3600 or www.lincolncrimestoppers.com.

In the KETV interview, Rogers said the attack happened and that the doubts swirling around about whether she staged the attack are “hurtful.”

“I start to feel like a pawn in a game that isn’t my game,” Rogers said.

She identified herself as a small-business owner and an avid volunteer, according to KETV.

Rogers, who is from South Sioux City, played for the Nebraska basketball team from 1996-2000. She was a standout forward, scoring 8.3 points per game in her 120-game career. She ranks No. 2 on NU’s all-time blocked shots list and No. 8 in rebounds.

Rogers’ attorney thanked people for rallying behind her client in the days after the attack.

“All of your support and generosity -- the sense of community is truly inspiration,” Megan Mikolajczyk said in a Facebook message posted on the group “Vigil Against Violence,” which had 1,842 members Friday afternoon.

Rogers said she couldn’t thank her well-wishers enough for the support they’ve given this week, which included vigils in Lincoln and Omaha.

“I can never thank them in a way that I feel adequately expresses how much it has meant to me that people are standing with me and that people are standing for me,” Rogers told KETV.

In part, that support will help Rogers have a future, a life beyond Sunday’s attack, she said.

“There’s fear, but there is resilience," she said. "There is forward.”

Reach Jonathan Edwards at 402-473-7395 or jedwards@journalstar.com.

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