A gay Central Michigan University professor has pleaded guilty for falsely claiming that a random guy at a Toby Keith concert called her a “cross-dressing fag,” punched her in the face and spat on her.
The professor, Mari Poindexter, had alleged that the man approached her at the Aug. 19 concert at the Soaring Eagle Casino and Resort in Mount Pleasant, Mich., reports The Morning Sun, a local newspaper.
The man began hurling a rich tapestry of obscene slurs at Poindexter, she told police.
Later that night, the professor said, the same man ambushed her in the parking lot of The Cabin – a local bar. The man thumped Poindexter in the eye, she said, and spat on her.
Poindexter, who announced her lesbianism three years ago and has since been passionate about it, later posted a Facebook photo of herself with an impressive black eye and a corresponding story of indignant outrage. That post went viral and was reported by several news outlets.
Much pity ensued. “We’re proud of you, Mari, for taking a stand,” taxpayer-funded Central Michigan University officials wrote on the school’s Facebook page. “CMU stands with you.”
Turns out, Poindexter got the shiner because she “punched herself in the eye,” according to local police.
Poindexter’s story began to unravel when police probed the incident. Investigators sat down with her to review security footage from the bar to identify the man, court documents say. Then, when the investigators informed Poindexter that there was also surveillance footage of the parking lot, she became anxious. She said she was no longer interested in viewing any video which might incriminate her assailant.
Six days after the attack, on Aug. 25, a woman called police saying that Poindexter was threatening to kill herself with an overdose of pills, according to Central Michigan Life, the CMU campus newspaper.
Poindexter was on the phone with the woman who called police. Later in the call, police say, Poindexter admitted to concocting the story about getting punched and spat on.
Poindexter made up the story and cold-cocked herself in her own right eye “because she wanted to raise awareness about the social hardships of people in the LGBTQ+ community,” according to court documents.
The lesbian professor continues to claim that a random guy approached her at a Toby Keith concert and started ranting anti-gay insults. Her anger about this incident caused her to fabricate the rest of the story, she claims.
On Feb. 25, Poindexter was sentenced to a fine of $225 and six months of probation.
The sentence was part of a plea bargain. The original charges against Poindexter were filing a false police report and lying to a police officer.
Her attorney, Dan O’Neil, said she received psychiatric treatment after the suicide threat.
Poindexter, who taught business information systems courses at Central Michigan, is currently on leave from the school.
Officials at Central Michigan continue to support her.
“While facing mental health challenges does not absolve Mari of accountability, it helps us understand why our offering compassion rather than judgement and isolation is so important,” the CMU LGBTQ services office said in a statement.
The tall tale Poindexter told is the latest in a long series of hate crime hoaxes perpetrated by gay people.
In 2015, for example, police in Grand Forks, N.D. announced that a gay man who claimed to have been the victim of a hate crime at a University of North Dakota fraternity party fabricated his entire story. The man, Haakon Gisvold, alleged that members of the Lambda Chi Alpha fraternity threw him out of a party because he is gay. Gisvold also claimed that Lambda Chi members beat him, choked him, stripped him and robbed him – all while shouting anti-gay insults. He said he hid in some bush wearing only his underwear until some kind soul came along with some clothes.
Also in 2015, a 21-year-old man in the small town of Delta, Utah grabbed national headlines for staging several anti-gay attacks against himself. The man, Rick Jones, said he said he was assaulted and had “Die Fag” carved into his arm while closing up his family’s pizzeria. He claimed his home was spray-painted and that somebody threw a Molotov cocktail through his bedroom window. The attacks, Jones told local reporters, kept happening because of his homosexuality. Police concluded that Jones staged the attacks because of inconsistencies in the evidence he presented. Eventually, Jones cracked and confessed.
Also last year, Cincinnati gay rights activist Adam Hoover was charged with a misdemeanor after he falsely said he was kidnapped and put into the trunk of his car.
In 2013, a Tennessee health food store owner who claimed that three men beat him and robbed his store in an anti-gay attack was arrested for filing a false police report. The man, Joe Williams, said the attackers were wearing ski masks. They robbed the store of $1,500, he said. They doused it in gasoline. They also scrawled an anti-gay message on Williams’ forehead and yelled anti-gay slurs. Local police didn’t believe Williams, however, and arrested him for filing a false police report.
Also in 2013, a lesbian waitress in New Jersey, Dayna Morales, claimed that she received an anti-gay message from a family on a dinner receipt. The message read, “I’m sorry but I cannot tip because I don’t agree with your lifestyle & how you live your life.” But the accused family came forward a couple of weeks after the story was first reported, saying that they did not leave the message and actually left a 20 percent tip. From there, the story weaved by Morales, a former Marine, unraveled. Friends came forward to say she lied about having cancer and about being the lone survivor in a bombing in Afghanistan. In fact, Morales was dishonorably discharged from the Marines for failing to show up to drills. She never saw combat.
And while it wasn’t a gay hate crime hoax, who could forget former University of Wyoming student Meghan Lanker-Simons, who perpetrated a social media hoax wherein she authored an unsigned 2013 posting on a Facebook page called UW Crushes reading: “I want to hatefuck Meg Lanker Simons so hard. That chick runs her liberal mouth all the time and doesn’t care who knows it. I think its so hot and makes me angry. One night with me and shes gonna be a good Republican bitch.” There was a big rally. A school official denounced “rape culture.” Lanker-Simons hit the feminist warpath before eventually pleading no contest to a misdemeanor charge of interfering with a peace officer. In the fall of 2013, Lanker-Simons enrolled at the Gonzaga University School of Law.