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Woman charged with giving false info to police in viral video incident

A Desert Hot Springs woman was taken into custody on Saturday for allegedly giving false information to authorities. 

On August 20, the Riverside County Sheriff's department got a call by the suspect, identified as Angelica Marie Mendez, 23, who claimed a child was a victim of neglect and sexual assault. The incident occurred in Palm Desert and was shared on social media and was viewed millions of times.

Sheriff's officials said the serious allegations "set in motion hundreds of staff-hours, by several law enforcement agencies, in two separate states.''

At the request of Riverside County sheriff's officials, police in Gilbert, Arizona, said they contacted the family seen in the video.

In a tweet, Gilbert police said they determined the girl was "safe and in good health" and "it was found that the child had refused to eat the day of the video recording due to an upset stomach.''

Gilbert police also said that the Arizona Department of Child Safety conducted its own separate investigation into the incident and that "no evidence of any crime has been established.''

Despite the false nature of the accusations in the viral video, it triggered a fire storm of angry reactions online.
Back in Riverside County, sheriff's officials said a flood of calls about the video came into their dispatch center, as well as the offices of city and county officials.

"The countless calls to our Dispatch Center took up valuable call time for other citizens who were in need of emergency services,'' sheriff's officials said.

The Sheriff’s department is reminding the public that not all information on the internet or on social media is accurate, and can be very misleading. 

Mendez was arrested on Saturday and booked into the John Benoit Detention Center on suspicion of reporting a false crime and providing false information to a peace officer, both misdemeanor crimes.

"It appears the reporting person had seemingly made up the allegations and had no supporting evidence to substantiate her claims. Her claims, both to law enforcement and publicly had numerous inconsistencies,''
sheriff's officials said.

Mendez was released the same day of her arrest after posting $25 bail, according to inmate records.

She was officially charged on Aug. 27.

Mendez will return to court on Dec. 1, 2021.

Stay with News Channel 3 for any new developments on this story.

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Jennifer Franco

Jennifer Franco is the weekend anchor/weekday reporter for KESQ News Channel 3

Jesus Reyes

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