MADISON, Wis. -- A volunteer for a GOP candidate for U.S. Congress who claimed he was attacked because he is gay and Republican, has recanted his story and could now face criminal charges that include obstructing police and filing a false police report.
Kyle Wood, a full-time volunteer for Republican Chad Lee, claimed last week that that he was attacked because he is gay and was not supporting Democratic congressional candidate and state Rep. Mark Pocan (D-Madison), who is also gay.
Pocan is running against Lee for the 2nd Congressional District seat being vacated by Tammy Baldwin, who is running for U.S. Senate.
Wood first made the claim last week -- after filing a police report -- to the conservative online media outlet The Daily Caller, and supplied the Daily Caller with photographs of him after the alleged attack, purportedly showing injuries to his neck, head and face.
In an e-mail to the Daily Caller, Wood had written:
“I was getting ready for work and there was a knock at the door. I opened it, and a guy wrapped a ligature around my neck, slammed my head into the doorway, and smashed my face into a mirror, telling me ‘You should have kept your fucking mouth shut.’
“He then kidney-punched me, while at the same time saying I was ‘warned,’ and continued to beat me."
Wood said his attacker’s reference to a warning likely pointed to graffiti he found painted on his car last week. The vandalism included the phrases “house trained republican faggot,” “traitor,” and “ur like a jew 4 hitler.”
Those slurs, Wood explained, were references to him being a gay Republican working to help Lee, a straight GOP candidate, defeat Pocan.
Wood also gave several interviews to national and local conservative media outlets in addition to the The Daily Caller, including the Wisconsin Reporter, Media Trackers, talk show host Vicki McKenna, and the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.
But inconsistencies in Wood's story and his alleged injuries only led to more questions, causing skepticism by many mainstream media outlets and LGBT news sites, including LGBTQ Nation and San Diego Gay & Lesbian News, who chose not to report Wood's alleged attack.
Woods' had also claimed that Pocan's partner threatened him in a series of "abusive and threatening text messages" in the days leading up to the attack.
By Monday, as Wood's claims began to unravel, Lee’s campaign issued an announcement that Wood had been dismissed and the campaign staff was cooperating with the police.
The campaign said it had learned that “a deeply troubled volunteer misled police, news outlets and our own team in regards to events that he alleged.”
In its official report of the incident Monday, the Madison Police Department issued this statement:
In an interview this afternoon with Madison Police detectives, the victim in this case recanted his earlier statements in regards to this crime. This crime, alleged to have occurred on High Street in the South Police District, will be cleared as "Unfounded" for case reporting purposes.
Captain Joe Balles of the Madison Police Department, said he did not want to disclose details about why Wood had made the alleged false report and why he recanted, but said those details will come out in time.
When asked if Wood also recanted his allegations about receiving text messages from Pocan's partner, Balles said, "Those did not occur. I'm not going to get into the specifics of how we know that."
Balles said that investigators would finish their investigation within a few days and then take the case to the Dane County District Attorney's Office to discuss possible charges.
"We don't ever want to be in the business of discouraging crime victims to come forward," Balles said. "At the same time, when something like this happens, this is on the extremes."
Earlier Monday afternoon, a spokesman for Rep. Mark Pocan and an attorney representing his partner, Philip Frank, said they were considering suing for libel over claims that Frank threatened Wood.
Madison Police records show that in 2008, Wood was arrested for threatening his former boyfriend with a butcher knife. After he pleaded no contest, the charge was lowered to a non-criminal forfeiture for disorderly conduct, and paid a $275 fine.
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