A Colorado woman who pieced together an elaborate story about being kidnapped and raped was sentenced Friday after having been found guilty of lying to police.
The Coloradoan reports Weld County District Court Judge Timothy Kerns sentenced 21-year-old Katherine Bennett to 32 days in jail, 180 days of house arrest and five years of probation.
Bennett was found guilty in late August of attempting to influence a public servant and two counts of tampering with evidence, according to The Associated Press.
That conviction stemmed from a November incident in which she claimed she was kidnapped from the parking lot of a Windsor, Colorado, Safeway store by a former co-worker. Bennett told police Dustin Toth kidnapped her and took her to his home where she was drugged and repeatedly raped.
Because of the allegations Toth was arrested. Bennett’s allegations later proved to be false.
Toth never denied that Bennett was in his house.
“It was very consensual … we went downstairs to watch movies and later became intimate,” he told KDVR.
Over the course of the investigation Bennett deleted text messages from her phone that were pertinent to the case and changed her story several times.
Police quickly became convinced that she was lying and the charges against Toth were dropped.
But it was too late for Toth. He had already lost his job as a result of the arrest. He was also kept from deploying with his Army National Guard team to Cuba.
He spent months trying to find another job. He suffered financially and said he is now prone to panic attacks.
“It was hard, it still is hard. I lost jobs. I wasn’t able to find a job for months because of my record,” Toth said in August. “It was all dropped which is why I was able to stay with the military.”
He has since found a job with a security firm.
Toth testified at the sentencing hearing Friday.
“Her actions have made it all the more difficult for real abuse victims to come forward,” he said. “This is unacceptable. No woman should have to live in fear of wrongful judgment because others have abused the system.”
The judge sympathized with Toth and said he had suffered at the hands of the media which failed to do follow-up reporting once his name had been cleared and all charges against him dropped.
“You have been a true victim,” Kerns said to Toth. “You are unequivocally a very good person.”
Bennett could have faced nine years in prison for her crimes. An additional hearing is scheduled for November at which point the judge will decide if she can serve her sentence in Illinois where she can be near her family.
Sources: The Coloradoan, KMGH (AP Story), KDVR
Photo Source: KDVR, The Coloradoan