A UC Santa Barbara student who told police she had been raped and beaten on the UC Santa Cruz campus, later admitting to fabricating the report, was sentenced on July 25. Morgan Triplett received a sentence of 60 days in the Santa Barbara County Jail, three years probation, 60 hours of mental health treatment, 200 hours of community service, a $710 fine and prohibition from using the internet to facilitate illegal activity. She was also mandated to write a letter of apology to UC Santa Cruz. While not present for her sentencing, Triplett’s public defender Jack Lamar entered a no contest plea on her behalf.
On Feb. 17, Triplett reported that she had been raped while she was at UCSC for a student conference. Triplett was badly beaten up and taken to the Santa Cruz Dominican Hospital for treatment, where she declined to submit her clothing or DNA samples as evidence.
Approximately two weeks after Triplett’s first report, the UCSC police asked her some follow-up questions in an attempt to corroborate the evidence they had collected. Triplett then said she had falsified the attack.
The police department recovered two Craigslist ads Triplett posted days before her alleged attack. The first asked for somebody to shoot her at close range with a small caliber gun, the second asked for somebody to beat her up. Both advertised compensation, but not sex.
“The issue of sex came up via text message between her and the male prior to any meeting, and that [sex] would be the form of compensation,” said prosecuting assistant district attorney Johanna Schonfield. The man and Triplett met on the campus, had sex and then Triplett instructed him to beat her up.
“[The man] gave a very detailed statement about what occurred that was then corroborated by stuff that was found at the scene and the text messages that we ultimately recovered,” Schonfield said. Because the man had received Triplett’s express consent to have sex and beat her up, he was not under threat of prosecution.
After her confession, Triplett explained that she had broken up with her boyfriend in the days prior to the incident and that she had been feeling suicidal. Triplett alleged rape in two additional incidents in the past, neither of which have been confirmed nor disproved. Schonfield said this and other specifics of the case motivated her to request a report of Triplett’s behavior while on probation, which the probation department declined to deliver because such reports are rare in misdemeanor cases.
Triplett’s mental health remained a concern for Schonfield, who also requested that the amount of psychological treatment be doubled from 30 hours to 60 hours, which judge John Gallagher ultimately granted.
Schonfield said that the letter of apology will hopefully bring some closure to the campus community.
Triplett has not yet sent in her letter, campus spokesperson Jim Burns said, but the school has every intention of making the letter available to students once it is received.
“This is the anomaly,” Schonfield said. “The vast, vast majority of sexual assault reports that we get are true, legitimate reports … and we want to make sure that victims of sexual assault, despite all of the publicity that this case got, continue to come forward.”