Breana Harmon, who gained attention earlier this year when she claimed she was raped, pleaded not guilty to charges related to the alleged fabrication of the incident according to her attorney Bob Jarvis. Jarvis said Harmon actually appeared in the 59th state district court and entered her plea with attorney Matt Hamilton. Harmon pleaded not guilty to two counts of tampering with physical evidence and two counts of tampering with a government record.
Her next court appearance is set for Sept. 28 for a plea docket.
In March, Denison Police arrested Harmon after she allegedly admitted to fabricating a story regarding her kidnapping and rape by three black men. While initially Harmon faced misdemeanor charges, they were elevated due to the scale of the incident and the harm it caused.
“Ms. Harmon was originally arrested for the misdemeanor offense of false report to a peace officer,” Grayson County District Attorney Joe Brown said in a press release in July. “However, the more we have looked at what happened in this case, and considered the harm it caused, and certainly could have caused, we believe what she did fits these higher charges. What she did was very serious, and we believe it was felony conduct.”
Harmon was indicted on two third-degree felony counts of tampering with physical evidence and a third-degree felony count of tampering with a government record. The fourth charge is a state-jail felony count of tampering with a government record.
The three third-degree felonies are punishable by two to ten years in prison and put to a $10,000 fine. The state-jail felony is punishable by up to two years in state jail and a $10,000 fine.
Under the initial Class B misdemeanor charges, Harmon would have faced up to 180 days — six months — in jail and up to a $4,000 fine, Denison Police Chief Jay Burch said previously.
The two charges of tampering with physical evidence stem from two different interviews where officials say that Harmon knowingly gave false reports “with the intent to affect the outcome of the investigation.”
In the state-jail felony charge, the DA’s office alleges that Harmon “had the intent to defraud the Denison Police Department and with that intent, caused a false entry to be made in the official police report by making her false statement to investigators.”
This is also a third-degree felony offense if the government record is a written report of a medical expert regarding an examination “for the purpose of determining the connection of the evidence to a criminal action.”
How it all started
The criminal complaint against Harmon alleges that the Denison Police Department responded to a report of a missing person shortly after 5 p.m. on March 8 at the Creekmore Apartments. Responding officers learned the Breana Harmon was missing and the door to her vehicle was open. Harmon’s cellphone and other personal items were found outside the vehicle.
Earlier in the afternoon, Harmon was reportedly seen walking her dog and her then-fiance Samuel Hollingsworth said he had eaten lunch with her earlier.
At about 8 p.m. Denison police received a report that a woman matching Harmon’s description walked into New Creation Church, located at 3400 Eisenhower Pkwy. Harmon told police investigators that she was kidnapped by three black males wearing ski masks and taken to a wooded area where she was assaulted and raped by two of the three suspects. The third suspect held her down while the incident occurred, Harmon told investigators.
Harmon said she ran through the woods and ended up at the church. Harmon said she received superficial cuts and abrasions from a knife while struggling to get away from her attackers. In the report, investigators said the wounds were not consistent with those that would be inflicted by a knife in a violent struggle.
As the investigation went on, police started to notice holes in Harmon’s story. Among the discrepancies noticed in the investigation was that holes in a pair of jeans that were discovered at the crime scene and confirmed to belong to Harmon, did not match up with her own injuries. Additionally, a Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner advised police that there was no physical evidence of a sexual assault taking place.
On March 15, DPD was dispatched to the home of Harmon’s parents, who advised that she had been missing since early in the morning. Harmon left a note advising that she was fine and was “going to do what needed to be done and not to worry.” Phone records found that Harmon called a number belonging to Tyler Steele at about 3 a.m. At his residence, Steele told investigators that Harmon was hiding in his truck. She was found nearby hiding in the bushes. Harmon told investigators that she was fine and just needed a break.
The following day, Steele told investigators that Harmon was his girlfriend and that they had sex on March 15. After searching his phone, investigators found a Snapchat photo dated March 15 that showed Steele and Harmon lying in a bed. In text messages to Steele, Harmon told him that her engagement was not going well and that her parents were starting to doubt her story.
Why Harmon lied
On March 21, Harmon confessed to filing a false report. Harmon said she had gotten into an argument and decided to go for a walk. In follow-up interviews, Harmon said she and Hollingsworth had been fighting recently and she knew the relationship was not going to last.
During the walk, Harmon ended up at the dilapidated house. Harmon told investigators that “things from her past started going through her head and she began cutting herself and her jeans.
Harmon said she then began to worry that her mother would be upset with her for cutting herself and made up the story of being abducted to cover it up. When she was asked by people at the church if she had been raped, Harmon said she shook her head without thinking because she didn’t want her mom mad at her.