Last Updated on February 17, 2022
A team of federal, state, and local investigators say there isn’t any evidence to support a claim that a group of White men attacked a bi-racial woman on the streets of Madison, Wisconsin last summer.
Althea Bernstein, 18, who claims to be Hispanic and Black, told Madison police she had been attacked by four white men around 1am on June 24, 2020. But the investigation revealed the detectives couldn’t find any surveillance video corroborating her claim the attack took place.
What investigators did find, however, was surveillance footage indicating Bernstein wasn’t even in the city at the time she claimed the attack took place.
Surveillance images show path of Althea Bernstein's car in the early morning hours of June 24 https://t.co/oxIPcf4Sz2
— Wisconsin State Journal (@WiStateJournal) October 2, 2020
Bernstein falsely claimed that her car was stopped at a red light when one of the four White men yelled a racial slur ate her. She alleged another of the four sprayed her with lighter fluid through her open car window and threw a flaming lighter at her, setting her neck and face on fire.
Bernstein then stated she drove away and extinguished the flames. She was treated for burns at a hospital, she said.
The US Attorney’s Office in Madison issued a statement saying the investigation was closed. No charges were filed.
During the course of the investigation, extensive interviews were conducted as well as an exhaustive examination of traffic and surveillance cameras in the area. All digital and forensic evidence available was reviewed but investigators found no evidence supporting Bernstein’s accusation.
Additionally, an arson canine found no trace of any incendiary device or substance in her car and investigators found the car was not damaged.
Questions remain about why Bernstein wasn’t charged with filing a false report with police.