Last week, popular YouTuber and LGBT lifestyle video blogger Calum McSwiggan, 26, posted on Instagram that he had been attacked outside of a gay night club in West Hollywood and the story only got more complicated from there.
Now he could be facing up to 364 days in county jail after the Los Angeles County District Attorney's Office revealed it was charging McSwiggan with making a false police report. "On June 27, McSwiggan allegedly falsely reported to police that he had been beaten by three men," the news release states.
It remains unclear from the complaint how much or what portion of the report was allegedly filed falsely. When Tech Insider asked for further clarification, TI was told the news release is all the LA County District Attorney's Office have said about the case.
Online personality charged with making false police report pleaded not guilty today. Due back on July 19. https://t.co/g3vYl2AfcD
— LA District Attorney (@LADAOffice) June 30, 2016
The whole saga started after a weekend at Vidcon. McSwiggan was out with other YouTube personalities, but the night out soon turned into a swirl of murky events for the London-based YouTube star.
McSwiggan took to Instagram and Twitter on Monday to tell his fans what had happened to him the previous night. "Towards the end of the evening I was separated from my friends and beaten up by three guys," he wrote on Instagram. The rest of his post detailed his injuries and expressed his frustration with the way he had been allegedly treated by police.
The only problem? His story of that night doesn't seem to match up with what the police or witnesses are saying. In a statement sent to Tech Insider, the Los Angeles Sheriff's Department wrote that it was "unable to substantiate teh assault" and that McSwiggan was "observed injuring himself with the handle and receiver to a payphone" inside a jail cell.
Here's the full statement:
"The Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department has an affirmative duty to fully investigate all assaults and reports of violence in our community. Deputies from West Hollywood Station responded to and investigated the report by Calum McSwiggan that he was assaulted by three males after leaving a local nightclub early Monday morning. Responding deputies were unable to substantiate the assault. Mr. McSwiggan, who had no visible injuries, was subsequently arrested after deputies observed him vandalizing a car in the 8900 block of Santa Monica Boulevard. After being booked and photographed, Mr. McSwiggan was placed into a cell by himself at West Hollywood Station. Mr. McSwiggan was then observed injuring himself with the handle and receiver to a payphone inside the cell. Medical personnel were summoned and Mr. McSwiggan was transported to a local hospital for treatment. Mr. McSwiggan’s booking photo was taken prior to deputies seeing Mr. McSwiggan injuring himself. That booking photo is attached."
McSwiggan later changed his public statement. On Facebook, he recounted his night in far more detail than he had in his previous Instagram post, and claimed that he had been the victim of a hate crime in a parking lot where three men assaulted him. He added that while in police custody, he felt the need to go to the hospital and used the phone in his cell to harm himself so police would have to transport him somewhere he could receive medical attention.
A photo posted by Melanie Murphy (@melaniiemurphy) on Jun 27, 2016 at 6:12pm PDT on
Many have questioned whether McSwiggan was actually attacked in the parking lot that night, including one man, Damien Nichols, who says he is a witness.
Nichols told Tech Insider that McSwiggan was "literally going insane screaming yelling," in the parking lot. Nichols says he and his friends backed away and removed themselves from the situation before the police arrived. He responded to McSwiggan's friend Melanie Murphy's account of the night, and later took to his own Facebook to explain his version of the situation.
While McSwiggan now admits to using the phone to harm himself — in his statement he said the phone only caused the cut on his forehead — the rest of his statement has now been called into question. Police have charged him with filing a false report.
In an interview with The Advocate, McSwiggan said, "I think if somebody is a victim of a crime, that person should be given the benefit of the doubt and believed."
McSwiggan hasn't posted much on his social media accounts since the incident, and has yet to post any new videos on his YouTube channel.
He had a scheduled arraignment on the morning of June 29, and later that same day had a bench warrant hearing, according to Los Angeles Superior Court records. He pleaded not guilty at his hearing, a sentiment he has also expressed on his social media.
To reiterate, I did not fake this attack and am absolutely appalled that anyone would suggest or think that I did.
— Calum McSwiggan (@CalumMcSwiggan) June 29, 2016
While the investigation is ongoing, there is evidence, like video surveillance from both the bar McSwiggan was at that night as well as in his cell at the jail, that has yet to be released.
McSwiggan, who has more than 60,000 subscribers on his YouTube channel, where he discusses lesbian, bisexual, gay and transgender lifestyles, is due back in court on July 19. If convicted, he faces a maximum of 364 days in county jail.