Bethany Storro gained the sympathy of the world, when she alleged that she was the victim of a random attack where someone threw acid on her face. The story she was going to tell Oprah was that a black woman with a pony tail walked up to her and said, "Hey, pretty girl, want something to drink?" and then proceeded to throw the acid.
Oprah would have hugged her on the air, and the show would have made us cry. We would have heard stories about how the woman had been courageous enough to fight on, in spite of this horrible thing that happened to her. The episode would have been glorious, moving, fascinating, and inspirational.
It would have also been a big old butt-naked lie.
Vancouver police just confirmed that Storro has admitted to making it all up. Police don't know why she did it, but they are confirming that she did. Apparently, Oprah had her suspicions long ago, which is why her producers started asking questions. When Storro got wind that they might be on to her, she abruptly canceled her appearance.
We know that Oprah doesn't like to be played like a fool. When it turned out that the author James Frey fabricated important sections of his book, "A Million Little Pieces," Oprah gave him the thrill of being invited back on to the show just so she could embarrass the hell out of him. Apparently, Storro didn't want to be embarrassed as well, which is why she made the correct decision to back out.
Storro's story started falling apart during the police investigation. Police were seeking a black woman with a pony tail, whom they believed to be responsible for the August 30th attack. Funds were created to send money to Storro to help her through her difficult time. Police are now working to find ways to give the money back.
Of course, Storro is going to be prosecuted for her behavior, that's a given. I am sure that police were close to having a suspect in custody, since international attention to a crime pushes police action. We should all be appalled by the possibility that some woman's life may have been ruined because someone chose to make up something like this.
There is the broader and interesting notion that whenever someone is a victim of a fabricated crime, they usually say that a black person did it. This reminds us that African Americans are perceived as being less ethical and more criminal than other Americans. We must, however, give police credit for taking the time to investigate inconsistencies to ensure that an innocent person is not charged.
The last point - and you might get mad at me for saying this - is that I actually feel sorry for Bethany Storro. Racism to the side, the truth is that this woman's decision to burn her own face in order to seek attention is simply mind-numbing. She clearly has a mental illness, and this should be taken in to account when she is prosecuted. The pain she inflicted on to her own face was daunting, but I'm sure it can't match the pain which exists within her own psyche. She really needs serious help.
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Dr. Boyce Watkins is the founder of the Your Black World Coalition and a Scholarship in Action Resident of the Institute for Black Public Policy. To have Dr. Boyce commentary delivered to your email, please click here.