Local News

UNC student seeks help after falsely reporting hate crime

Posted April 14, 2011 6:34 p.m. EDT
Updated April 15, 2011 7:22 a.m. EDT

— A University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill student who falsely claimed to be the victim of a hate crime on campus has returned home to Asheville and is receiving counseling, his father told WRAL News on Thursday. 

Freshman Quinn Matney, who is gay, told authorities that on April 5, a man walked up to him near a foot bridge on campus, called him a derogatory name, told him "here is a taste of hell," and held a heated object to his skin for several seconds, leaving third- and fourth-degree burns.

David Matney III said his son was too embarassed to reveal the wound was self-inflicted when a friend noticed it, so he made up the story. After other friends heard about it, they pushed Quinn Matney to report the incident as a hate crime. 

The story then snowballed, David Matney said. 

In an interview with WRAL News Monday, Matney described the alleged attack in vivid detail. He said the branding felt like "relentless, burning, searing pain."

"It has burned all the way through the flesh and is burning through muscle and tendon," Matney said. "He never actually let go until I punched him full in the face."

He added that he has an infection and limited movement in some fingers and nerve damage that might require surgery.

He said his attacker was not a student but that he had seen him on campus before.

"I have never spoken to him. I never said a single word to him," he said.

David Matney said his son admitted the story was false during a meeting with UNC's public safety department on Tuesday.

Officials then took Quinn Matney to the university's Counseling and Wellness Services department and contacted his parents. He was taken off-campus before administrators announced the truth, David Matney said. 

Randy Young, a spokesman for UNC's public safety department, said charges of filing a false police report are likely against Matney.

The false report was a hot topic at a forum hosted by the Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, Transgender and Straight Alliance at UNC on Thursday night. 

Some in attendance were critical of UNC leaders, who did not tell students about the reported attack until a week after it allegedly happened. 

"I think, frankly, we did not get that right," UNC Vice-Chancellor Winston Crisp said at the forum. "I acknowleged that I don't think we handled this the way it should have been handled." 

Chapel Hill Mayor Mark Kleinschmidt, who is gay, said he understands how harassed students feel.

“(We need to) fight and be aggressive about our rightful place in our community because we deserve it,” Kleinschmidt said during the forum.

UNC officials stressed there is help on campus for anyone dealing with mental health problems.

“We might have to deal with some conduct associated with mental illness, but we are not going to punish you for having a mental health issue,” Crisp said.