A Utah gay man who reported that an attacker carved "Die Fag" into his arm now says the wound was self-inflicted, police said Tuesday.
Attorneys for Rick Jones made the admission last week to the sheriff's office in Millard County, a largely rural area south of Salt Lake City, The Salt Lake Tribune reports.
"Our client is responsible for all of the incidents and that would include the cutting of his own skin" as well as his reports of burglary and vandalism at his home and his family business, a pizza restaurant, attorney Paul Burke told the paper Tuesday. Jones had claimed three separate attacks occurred, two in April and one in June.
But Burke said this was not a hoax but "a cry for help," as Jones, 21, is having problems with family members, who are not pleased that he is gay.
"A hoax implies a genuine intent to deceive," the lawyer said. "From what I understand of this situation, this was a cry for help and it was a genuine cry for help."
Troy Williams, executive director of Equality Utah, noted the difficulties faced by young LGBT people in rural areas. "The mental health of these youth depends on a loving network of family, neighbors, and friends," he told the Tribune. "Without these enduring ties, kids like Rick become increasingly vulnerable."
Authorities are considering whether to bring criminal charges against Jones, something Burke hopes they won't do. But so far they have treated him compassionately, he told the paper.
Also, Jones's family announced they will not accept the nearly $12,000 raised through a GoFundMe campaign to pay his medical expenses. "Rick and his family are grateful for the expressions of support, but cannot accept this generosity. All donations are being returned to the donors," read a post on the site. "The family has no further comment at this time."