A 22-year old Billings man admitted Tuesday he lied when he told Missoula police three men beat him downtown last weekend.
Initial reports of an alleged hate crime set off a fire storm online.
Joseph Baken says he’s gay. He told officers he went into the Missoula Club, announced it was his birthday and asked if anyone knew where a gay bar was.
Baken said a man invited him outside for a cigarette and then two others joined in to beat him.
Police said his injuries were minor.
The story went viral, with hundreds of thousands of likes on Facebook and links on Tumblr.
But then the Missoula Independent got a call from a source.
Reporter Jessica Mayrer told NBC Montana she got news someone had recorded Baken downtown.
She shared it with police and the investigation took a turn.
The video shows Baken attempting a backflip and smashing his face on the sidewalk.
Once the video surfaced, Baken admitted he made up everything.
Baken pleaded guilty to filing a false police report.
Police Chief Mark Muir said, “We're glad to have resolved it quickly, before the information had a chance to become any more damaging. And it will hopefully provide some needed relief with respect to the fears and anxieties that were brought about by this."
Reporter Jessica Mayrer is troubled by the story. So are many commenting online.
“When I received news of (the videotape), I had a hard time sleeping,” Mayer said. “It seemed like such a big story, in light of the significance to the gay community and to the community as a whole.”