Virginia Girl Recants Story of Boys Cutting Off Her Dreadlocks


It was a story bound to unleash a storm of news coverage: A black 12-year-old girl reported that three white boys had pinned her down in a school playground and cut off her dreadlocks.

It was the same private Christian school in Virginia where the vice president’s wife was a part-time teacher, which only fueled the social media outrage.

The police said they were investigating. The girl and her family gave interviews to TV networks and newspapers.

But in a matter of days, the story fell apart.

On Monday, the school announced that the girl had admitted the story was a lie, and that her family had apologized.

“While we are relieved to hear the truth and bring the events of the past few days to a close, we also feel tremendous pain for the victims and the hurt on both sides of this conflict,” the school’s principal, Stephen Danish, said in a statement.

He continued: “We recognize that we now enter what will be a long season of healing. This ordeal has revealed that we as a school family are not immune from the effects of deep racial wounds in our society.”

Mr. Danish also thanked the Fairfax County Police Department for its “diligent work” investigating the complaint.

The school also provided a separate statement from the girl’s family, in which they apologized for her actions and asked for forgiveness from the accused boys, their families, the school and the community.

“To those young boys and their parents, we sincerely apologize for the pain and anxiety these allegations have caused,” the family said. “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.”

In an interview with The New York Times on Friday, the girl, Amari Allen, had said that she was attacked during recess on Sept. 23 by three boys who held her down, covered her mouth and cut her dreadlocks.

“They were saying that my hair was ugly, that it was nappy,” she said.

Cynthia Allen, Amari’s grandmother and legal guardian, said in an interview on Friday that Amari was reluctant at first to say what happened to her hair, but broke down crying on Wednesday and made the accusation against her classmates.

The family did not immediately return phone calls on Monday.

The school enrolls kindergartners through eighth graders at its campus in Springfield, about 15 miles southwest of Washington. It was briefly in the news when Karen Pence accepted a part-time art teaching position there in January.


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