MYRTLE BEACH, S.C. (WBTW) – Horry County police said Taffy Wheeler made up an elaborate story about a rape in Surfside Beach in January. Police say she later recanted her story and charged her with filing a false police report, which is a felony violation.
Wheeler claimed to be attacked from behind when she was out for a morning run. She claimed four men pushed her face down in the sand and called her names. A family member says she went to a local hospital and was treated for injuries.
During the investigation, police say Wheeler’s story changed several times and she eventually recanted her story. A police report states the reason for her rape claim was to cover up an affair she was having with a former co-worker.
Solicitor Jimmy Richardson says people use words like “rape never happens” and “victims always lie.” He wants everyone, including victims to know if you really are raped, don’t use a situation like this to hold you back from telling your story.
“If you are a victim of rape, you need to know there have been other victims, you’re not the first to go down this line. You need to be able to get protection and the way you do that is to come out and you tell the truth.”
Richardson said 90% of rape victims are absolutely telling the truth. In his 18 years in this line of work, he says he’s only known three or four people to fabricate their story.
The punishment for this crime is up to five years in jail. Solicitor Richardson said it’s unlikely she’ll spend any time at all because she doesn’t have a prior record.
He added the worst part about this situation is that it negatively impacts real rape victim’s stories and fake crimes have real punishment for real people.
“When you tell stories on people, you can always water down a rape victim that you haven’t even met but you can also ruin the life of a person that you’re making that allegation against. He has to go to J Reuben Long, he has to get his photograph taken, he has to make bond.”
Richardson said he’s seen this happen before with someone who was falsely accused. He explained in South Carolina, once an allegation is made, that alone is enough for an arrest while it may not be enough for a charge.