Former faculty member admits to fabricating physical assault
A former fixed-term faculty member pleaded guilty in January to falsely reporting a misdemeanor, after telling police she was physically assaulted because of her sexual orientation. She was sentenced last month.
Mari Poindexter, who is on leave from Central Michigan University, posted a detailed account of being assaulted for her sexual orientation on Facebook in August 2015. On Aug. 20, Poindexter told police she was harassed at a Toby Keith concert at Soaring Eagle Casino by a man who called her homophobic slurs. She is charged with two counts of falsely reporting a misdemeanor and sentenced to six months of probation.
On the night she said she was assaulted, she was at the Cabin when she said she saw the man again. Poindexter told police she left the bar to drop a friend off, then headed back to look for her keys. At this time, the man confronted her in the parking lot, she said, and punched her in the eye.
Poindexter detailed the assault in a Facebook post, which was shared thousands of times. She posted photos of herself with significant bruising around her eye. CMU shared a statement of support from its official Facebook account. Central Michigan Life contacted Poindexter for an interview in August, though Poindexter did not show up at the scheduled time.
According to court records, Poindexter looked at surveillance footage with police and did not see the man inside the bar during the footage. Poindexter became nervous and didn't want to watch the footage when police asked about seeing surveillance from the parking lot of the Cabin.
On Aug. 25, Isabella County Central Dispatch received a call from a woman on the phone with Poindexter, who was threatening to commit suicide by taking pills. Later in the conversation, Poindexter said she fabricated the story about being assaulted. According to court records, she "punched herself in the eye" because she wanted to raise awareness about the "social hardships of people in the LGBTQ population."
She said the man did make homophobic remarks to her but did not assault her. She was so angry, the documents state, she decided to bring attention to the confrontation on social media, but exaggerated the assault. When she made the post, supporters "almost demanded" she report it to police.
Poindexter's attorney Daniel O'Neil wrote to the court that his client has a passion for equal rights for the LGBTQ community.
"In fact, it was her passion for the cause that led her to use poor judgment in the current case," he wrote.
After the call, Poindexter sought psychiatric help in Grand Rapids. She was in psychiatric care in August when police found out about the false report. Because of the state of her mental health, Poindexter took a leave of absence from CMU.
The university's Office of LGBTQ Services released a statement on March 8, encouraging the community to show empathy for Poindexter.
"While facing mental health challenges does not absolve Mari of accountability, it helps us understand why our offering compassion rather than judgement and isolation is so important," it states.