The family of a young girl who claimed to be the victim of a hate crime at a Virginia Christian school where Karen Pence teaches admitted Monday that the girl invented the incident.
The 12-year-old girl told her grandmother Wednesday that three boys in her grade at Springfield's Immanuel Christian School held her down and cut her dreadlocks while using the racially charged term "nappy." After the girl's family reported the allegation to a local CBS affiliate, WUSA9, national media picked up the story.
Major news outlets emphasized that Second Lady Karen Pence is an art teacher at Immanuel Christian's elementary school.
The NBC News headline read "3 boys at Christian school where Karen Pence teaches allegedly cut black girl's dreadlocks." The sub-headline of the Daily Beast‘s article on the incident originally noted that the supposed assailants "called the 12-year-old girl’s hair ‘ugly' and ‘nappy' while attacking her during recess at Immanuel Christian School—where Karen Pence currently teaches art."
The lede of CBS's piece noted the incident "took place at Immanuel Christian School—where Vice President Mike Pence's wife, Karen Pence, is a teacher." Stories from CNN, the New York Times, and the Washington Post also made reference to the second lady.
CNN's Bakari Sellers, the Washington Post‘s Eugene Scott, and Mother Jones‘s Clara Jeffery were among the media figures who also used the incident to attack Karen Pence.
I’m sorry but Karen Pence should have to answer questions about this…. https://t.co/hgX4rp21Lb
— Bakari Sellers (@Bakari_Sellers) September 27, 2019
This is the school where Karen Pence, wife of Vice President Mike Pence teaches … https://t.co/DijfLZnagk
— Eugene Scott (@Eugene_Scott) September 27, 2019
Buried waaaaaay down in the piece "Karen Pence, the wife of Vice President Mike Pence, accepted a part-time art teaching position there in January." https://t.co/xeEZOYkcZv
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— Clara Jeffery (@ClaraJeffery) September 27, 2019
On Monday, the girl's family released a statement acknowledging the initial allegation was false. They apologized to all involved.
"To those young boys and their parents, we sincerely apologize for the pain and anxiety these allegations have caused," they wrote. "To the administrators and families of Immanuel Christian School, we are sorry for the damage this incident has done to trust within the school family and the undue scorn it has brought to the school. To the broader community, who rallied in such passionate support for our daughter, we apologize for betraying your trust."
Some of the journalists who fanned the flames and made the story about the Pence family have not expressed similar contrition. So far, only the Daily Beast, New York Times, and Washington Post have posted updates about the hoax.