The NFL honored a Wisconsin woman who claimed to be the victim of a hate crime on its Instagram page, more than a week after local and federal authorities found no evidence to support her claims of being attacked.
In June, 18-year old Wisconsin resident Althea Bernstein claimed that she was attacked by four “classic Wisconsin frat boys” at 1 a.m. near the Wisconsin State capital in Madison. She claimed these four white men called her racist names, then threw lighter fluid on her as she sat in her car and set her on fire.
Bernstein did appearances on Good Morning America, and received personal messages from former royal Meghan Markle.
But after weeks of investigating these allegations, local and federal officers could not find any proof to substantiate Bernstein’s accusations — including a failure to find these “four white frat boys” on any of the extensive CTV coverage of the area.
By October 2, the Madison Police Department released a statement, saying, “after an exhaustive probe, detectives were unable to corroborate or locate evidence consistent with what was reported.”
The case was also investigated by the FBI and the Civil Rights Division of the U.S. Department of Justice. Both agencies agreed with the local police. The U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Western District of Wisconsin ultimately said that “after reviewing all available evidence, authorities could not establish that the attack, as alleged by the complainant, had occurred.”
The family closed the door on any more media availability after the investigation. “We continue to maintain our family privacy and will not be granting interviews at this time,” the family said in a statement.
It appears that the NFL, though, was not paying attention to the facts of the case because almost two weeks after Bernstein’s case was dismissed by every agency that investigated her claims, the NFL was pushing the young woman as an example of “inspiring change.”
Follow Warner Todd Huston on Facebook at: facebook.com/Warner.Todd.Huston.