Case delayed for West Virginia mom who accused Egyptian man of kidnapping

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BARBOURSVILLE, W.Va. (WHSV) — UPDATE (2 p.m.):

A court appearance has been delayed for a West Virginia woman charged with falsely reporting that an Egyptian man tried to kidnap her daughter from a shopping mall.

The Herald-Dispatch reports 24-year-old Santana Renee Adams was scheduled to appear Monday on the misdemeanor charge, punishable by a $500 fine and up to six months in jail.

The case was continued. She's now set to appear in court on Sept. 26.

Adams was hailed as a hero after claiming she used a gun to thwart a kidnapping on April 1. But her story unraveled when no witnesses could be found and mall surveillance video didn't support the tale.

Abduction charges were later dropped against the accused man, a 54-year-old engineer who was in the area for work.

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A West Virginia woman is due in court on a charge of falsely reporting to police that an Egyptian man tried to kidnap her daughter from a shopping mall.

The Huntington Herald-Dispatch reports 24-year-old Santana Renee Adams is expected to appear Monday on the misdemeanor charge, punishable by a $500 fine and up to a six-month jail sentence.

Adams was hailed as a hero after claiming she used a gun to thwart a kidnapping on April 1. But her story unraveled when no witnesses could be found and mall surveillance video instead supported a tale of a woman scared of an Egyptian man who couldn't speak English.

Adams initially told police Mohamed Fathy Hussein Zayan, a 54-year-old engineer from Alexandria, Egypt, who was in the area for work, grabbed her 5-year-old daughter by the hair inside a clothing store and tried to pull her away but stopped when she produced a gun.

A criminal complaint went into further detail, describing a frightening scene where a Middle Eastern man dragged the girl by the hair as she dropped to the floor.

But the story started falling apart when no witnesses could be found and mall surveillance video didn't show her account at all.

She later told investigators she may have overreacted and misinterpreted the man's intentions. Police said he may have simply been patting the girl on the head and described the whole incident as a "cultural misunderstanding."

“I’m not sure what her agenda was, but it was still very, very bad to hurt this man and upset our entire community like it did,” Detective Greg Lucas, with the Barboursville Police Department, said.

"Unfortunately, as false accusations are becoming more prevalent in today's social media driven society, we are losing our grasp on 'presumed innocent until proven guilty,' and Mr. Zayan has been tried around the world by the court of public opinion," Zayan's public defender attorney, Michelle Protzman, said in a statement to The Associated Press.

Protzman said the surveillance video didn't even show the two near each other. It shows the mother and daughter leave the store first and Zayan leaving later. He then went to other stores and, later, the food court. Zayan said he was extremely confused when police approached him.

Police did confirm the woman had a gun in her front pocket.

Abduction charges were later dropped against the accused man, who returned to Egypt to reunite with his family.