College student accused of sexual assault admits to 'catfishing' her friends

FORT COLLINS, Colo. (KDVR) — A Colorado State University student is facing sexual assault and stalking charges after police say she manipulated two female friends with fake online identities.

Jalen Perez, 20, admitted to creating at least three fake social media accounts and using them to trick her friends into forming online relationships with men they thought were also CSU students.

The details of the case are outlined in an arrest affidavit obtained by FOX31 Denver.

According to the affidavit, the two friends went to an advocate at CSU, who contacted the Fort Collins Police Department in February.

The two friends told police they had been texting with two guys but had come to believe that Perez was actually the person they were exchanging messages with.

One of the friends told police Perez had sexually assaulted her in September 2016, after both women had been drinking, but that she hadn't reported it because the guys had texted her and convinced her Perez hadn't really done anything wrong.

One of the friends said she was first contacted by one of the guys when he requested to follow her on Instagram. Perez told her friend she had gone to high school with him in Colorado Springs, the affidavit states. The friend accepted the Instagram request since they had a mutual friend. The friend eventually exchanged phone numbers with the guy and they started texting.

Perez's two friends began to put the pieces together.

The guys repeatedly canceled plans to meet in person. They also seemed to know lots of information that Perez would know.

One of the friends said there were at least two occasions where Perez started listening to a song right after she had mentioned the songs to one of the guys.

The friends also discovered the guys were texting them with an app called Pinger. One of the friends said she was upset he was using a texting app and asked for his real phone number. The guy reportedly told her he'd give her his number when they met in person.

Eventually, the friends tried to look up the names of the guys they were texting in the CSU student directory and couldn't find them. One of the guys claimed to be in a fraternity, but when one of the friends asked members of the fraternity about him, none of them knew the guy. They couldn't find anyone besides Perez who had ever seen either of the guys in person.

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When police initially questioned Perez about the alleged sexual assault, Perez said they had kissed but that was all.

When the investigating officer told Perez her friend felt she had been raped, Perez denied it and said again there had just been a "weird kiss."

Police seized a cell phone belonging to Perez and found the email address that had been used to set up the Instagram page that had been used to contact one of the friends, along with the texting app Pinger and contacts for the two friends.

On April 6, Perez and her attorney met with police again.

According to the affidavit, Perez admitted creating two fake online accounts because she wanted to know what the two friends thought about her. Perez said she also created a third fake account so that could tell her friends she was also texting with a guy.

"I asked [Perez] how she was able to keep track of all the identities... and [Perez] said it just kind of made sense in her head," Officer Tessa Jakobsson stated in the affidavit.

Police say Perez has been accused of a similar 'catfishing' incident in Colorado Springs. Perez's attorney declined to comment.

You can read a redacted version of the affidavit here.

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