ANN ARBOR, MI -- A 21-year-old Ann Arbor woman pleaded guilty as charged to one count of false report of a misdemeanor in 15th District Court on Monday, March 6.
Halley Bass admitted in court that she fabricated a story about a strange man scratching her face in downtown Ann Arbor on Nov. 15.
"I was suffering from depression at the time," Bass told Judge Elizabeth Pollard Hines. "I made a superficial scratch on my face. It was visible and I was embarrassed about what I'd done. So I made up a story and told a friend that a stranger had done it while I was walking. I was encouraged to report it to the police. I made the mistake of doing that."
At the time, Bass claimed her attack was part of the surge in hate crimes following the election of Donald Trump a week earlier. She told police she was targeted for wearing a solidarity pin connected to Great Britain's "Brexit" vote.
Bass admitted to scratching her own face with the pin after becoming upset during a Woman's Literature class at the University of Michigan, according to the Ann Arbor Police Department report.
Bass and her Ann Arbor-based attorney, Douglas Mullkoff, requested that she be sentenced through the 15th District's mental health court. Hines said if court officials determine Bass is eligible, Bass will be sentenced by Judge Karen Valvo in that court on March 22.
Bass originally told police that she got out of class at Angell Hall around 1 p.m. and walked to the Starbuck's on the corner of East Liberty Street and South State Street, but left because it was too crowded, according to the report.
Bass said she then went to the Michigan Theater down Liberty to see what movies were playing and that while she was passing by "Graffiti Alley" a short time later a man attacked her, slashing her face with what she believed was a safety pin, the report said.
Bass told police the attack was likely prompted by the Brexit pin.
"(The) person must have seen the pin and picked on me," Bass said, according to the report. "That's my best guess. No other reason why he would be targeting me."
Police asked Bass if something like that ever happened to her before.
"I've heard of other people experiencing incidents recently, but not to me," she said.
The police noted several scratches on her face.
Bass described the suspect as an approximately 45-year-old white male, with stubble on his face, wearing a black baseball hat pulled low over his face, a gray hoodie with the hood down and sweat pants.
She has now admitted to making up the suspect.
Bass posted about the attack on Facebook the same day she reported the attack to the police, according to the report.
Bass later told detectives she wrote the post to convey "that all people are equal and deserve to have their voice heard and not feel endangered."
Detective pointed out her post had a dozen shares and more than 100 likes.
"It blew up a little bit more than I meant to," she said about the post.
On Nov. 17, Ann Arbor police Detective Robin Lee and Special Agent Sean Nicol of the Federal Bureau of Investigation sat down with Bass at the Ann Arbor Police Department for an interview.
The investigators observed the 21-year-old was nervous and asked why she was wearing the Brexit pin.
"... The significance of the safety pins is that ... to sort of like to show a solidarity with immigrants who feel threatened by Brexit. Um ... but now it's ... for people who feel threatened by president elect, Trump's his name ... Um so it was, it was to show, yeah, solidarity with the people like we show your fear and we want to help you get through it," she said, according to the report.
Bass also heard of other incidents on campus, including the incident of a woman wearing a hijab who said a man threatened to light her on fire if she didn't take it off. Ann Arbor police later determined that incident was a hoax too, though. The woman who falsely reported the crime is not being prosecuted in that case, however.