DELTA, Utah (ABC 4 Utah) – New developments in the case of the young man who was the victim of a hate crime. Tonight we learned the allegations were made up and his attorney is calling this, “a cry for help.”
It quickly grabbed national headlines. The story of Rick Jones being the victim of a hate crime in Delta. His arms carved with anti-gay slurs. His family’s home and business repeatedly vandalized. It now appears these attacks were all self-inflicted.
“We have notified law enforcement that our clients has accepted responsibility for the incidents,” said Rick Jones’s attorney, Paul C. Burke.
His attorney calls his actions a cry for help for a young man whose family is struggling to come to terms with his sexual orientation.
“His family is under a lot of stress right now and so I worry for them and obviously I worry about my client,” added Burke.
Burke notified the Millard County Attorney of the termination for the investigation last week and all of the money donated to Jones through a GoFundMe account set up by supporters totaling over $11,000 has been returned to all donors.
Upon learning of the news, Lt. Governor Cox released the following statement. He was one of the first lawmakers to meet with Jones and offer his full support when the news broke.
“I am both relieved and saddened about the news today. The original allegations were incredibly troubling, and not representative of the love and compassion the people of Utah exhibit daily. I am proud of the overwhelmingly positive response and support from Delta and every corner of our state. Today, our concern is that the young man and his family receive the love and help necessary to find peace and healing they seek.”
Senator Jim Dabakis, who was the first lawmaker to meet with Jones at his family’s restaurant and offered his full support, released the following statement on his Facebook page when the news broke.
“I am hearing press reports about the young man from Delta, Rick Jones, who was the alleged victim of a hate crime. The facts of the alleged attack remain muddled. There are serious questions. Since my trip to Delta, I have been working to help him get some professional assistance. I remain as I said in comments immediately following my trip, very grateful to officials (sheriff and county attorney, etc) as well as the people in Delta and in Millard County. They have been warm hearted, understanding and professional. I hope we can all work together with an eye toward getting Rick some help.”
Meanwhile, Millard County Sheriff Dekker says he is not upset about the situation, after spending countless hours and resources to solving this crime.
“I don’t like putting my resources into that kind of thing but obviously it brings to a conclusion and it puts our people at rest that we didn’t have this bad guy or bad guys running around that it appeared to be.”
The case now brings to light how difficult it still is for many, especially for those living in rural communities to come out.
“What happens when people can’t do that is they create all sorts of dysfunction and behaviors that really aren’t healthy,” said Kent Frogley, President of the Board of Directors for the Utah Pride Center.
Currently, The Millard County Attorney is looking into the case and trying to determine whether any charges will be brought upon Jones.
Despite of the false accusations, supporters have been flooding the Rick Jones Facebook page and GoFundMe account offering Jones their love, support, and hoping he gets the help he desperately needs.