For months, weather babe Heidi Jones had convinced sympathetic colleagues at WABC/Channel 7 that she had nearly been raped while jogging in Central Park.
Yesterday, that compassion turned to rage when staffers at the TV station learned that Jones had been lying all along. “It was an outrageous lie,” said a fuming WABC staffer, who like others were “flabbergasted” to learn of the deception by reading about it in The Post.
“All this trust we had is shattered. We’re like a family. We feel betrayed,” the source said, adding that it had become “common knowledge” around the newsroom that Jones claimed to have been attacked in late September. “To the point that security guards would offer to escort her home,” the source said. Among Jones’ only defenders yesterday was her mother in Florida, who claimed that Jones never used the word “rape” when she described the alleged attack to police.
“I have no comment. I do know that the word ‘rape’ was never used,” the mom said. Station officials said yesterday they had suspended Jones, 37, and are conducting an internal investigation.
A source said she will be fired. “She was deeply unhappy, personally and professionally,” a newsroom source said.
Police sources said Jones had admitted to filing the false report because she suffered from “personal and professional pressures” and wanted to gain “sympathy” over an undisclosed personal issue. “I am surprised by it,” said another Channel 7 staffer. “She’s really a nice girl. There must be something deeper that we don’t yet know about.”
By yesterday afternoon, Jones was persona non grata at the station. A poster of the weather gal that hung in one of the hallways of WABC had been taken down. Her bio was taken off the station’s Web site during the day — but mysteriously reappeared at night. On yesterday’s noon edition of “Eyewitness News,” anchor Lori Stokes covered Jones’ arrest as a regular news story. “WABC has suspended Jones pending the outcome of an internal investigation,” Stokes said.
“Ms. Jones has had a distinguished career as a broadcast journalist and urges all concerned to refrain from jumping to conclusions about the unproven charges against her being discussed in the press,” said her lawyer, Paul Callan, adding that his client will plead not guilty. Nearly two months after the alleged attack, Jones told cops she was jogging in Central Park on the afternoon of Sept. 24 when a Hispanic man in his 30s or 40s grabbed her from behind, dragged her into a wooded area and attempted to rape her. She told police that the would-be rapist was scared off by two passers-by who came to her aid.
She also claimed that the same man approached her on Nov. 21 and threatened her. Cops questioned the validity of the claim almost immediately, said sources.
Why in the world would you lie about getting raped??? This broad deserves to get fired.