SANTA CRUZ — The woman who allegedly falsely reported being sexually assaulted on the UC Santa Cruz campus Feb. 15 pleaded not guilty Friday, and she was released on her own recognizance.
Prosecutors and defense agreed that keeping her in jail before her next court date of May 23 was not appropriate, especially since Triplett is reportedly undergoing psychological treatment for depression.
Flanked by her father, Richard Triplett, and defense attorney Jack Lamar, Triplett quickly left the courthouse after the brief hearing.
Prosecutors said Friday that Triplett allegedly placed two ads on Craigslist, one requesting someone to shoot her in the shoulder with a small caliber gun in exchange for sex. The second ad was a request for someone to punch, kick and bruise her in exchange for sex.
In the ads, placed in the Santa Cruz County region of Craigslist, Triplett also stated that she would not file charges.
Prosecutor Johanna Schonfield said people did respond to the ads. One man reportedly beat Triplett, who was visiting UC Santa Cruz for a lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender conference.
"She was suicidal, and she wanted something to almost bring her back to reality," Schonfeld said of Triplett’s reason for posting the ad.
In an interview outside court, Triplett’s father Richard Triplett disputed prosecutor’s claims, saying that the physical attack on his daughter was invited, but the sexual assault was not.
He said she gave a description of someone who doesn’t exist because she was scared of the man who responded to the ad.
“Morgan asked for some trouble, but she did not ask to be sexually assaulted,” he said.
He declined to elaborate, saying there are “two sides to every story.”
Richard Triplett said his daughter realized the impacts of filing the report.
“She is sorry for any problems or chaos that she has caused,” he said.
“What we're dealing with is a very scared, very upset, very confused 20-year-old girl who has made some poor choices,” he said. “This is the culmination of those choices.”
Santa Cruz County Superior Court Judge John Gallagher ordered Triplett to avoid the Internet, except for schoolwork.
Schonfield told reporters outside the courtroom that police spent “dozens of man hours” investigating the case.
Schonfield said that she was not aware of any other false police reports in the past by Triplett.
Prosecutors say that Triplett, 20, called 911 and told police that she was severely beaten and sexually assaulted by a stranger she encountered while she was walking alone on a path between the upper quarry amphitheater and the classroom unit buildings on the UCSC campus looking for banana slugs.
Triplett had extensive bruises that corroborated her story. She was treated at Dominican Hospital.
During the sexual assault exam Triplett requested that DNA samples not be taken, which raised red flags for investigators, Schonfield said.
In a brief interview outside court Friday, Morgan Triplett declined to talk about the allegations, saying that the details will emerge later.
“Right now I just want this to settle down,” she said. “I’m trying to move on with my life.”
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