ST. GEORGE – A woman who pleaded guilty to faking a rape report and committing fraud was sentenced in Fifth District Court in St. George Wednesday.
Sarah Elizabeth Rutz. 27, of St. George, was arrested in September 2012 on charges related to filing a false rape report with police and then accepting money from the state’s crime victim reparation fund based on the false filing. Money from the fund is granted to victims to help cover expenses caused by criminal activity, such as property damage, medical and/or counseling costs, and so on.
Rutz had told the police she was raped in May 2012 while out jogging. As the investigation unfolded, evidence supplied to police by Rutz’s husband determined she had concocted the rape story in order to cover up an affair.
“This was a very serious crime,” said Brian Filter, deputy Washington County attorney. “It had quite an impact on a lot of people.”
Those impacts included wasting police time and resources, Filter said, as well as causing fear in the community that a rapist was on the loose. As well, because someone made false accusations, it could result in real victims not being believed in the future.
In March a plea agreement was reached in which Rutz pleaded guilty to a third-degree felony for accepting the money based on a fraudulent claim, and a class-B misdemeanor for giving police false information.
Details of the plea agreement were originally hashed out while Judge James Shumate oversaw the case. Judge Michael Westfall inherited the case following Shumate’s retirement. Some aspects of the original plea agreement had since been modified.
Rutz will serve 30 days in jail to be served two days weekly, serve 100 hours of community service, be on supervised probation for 36 months, and pay $26,559 back to the state’s victims reparation fund. The third-degree felony may be reduced to a class-A misdemeanor upon successful completion of probation.
Rutz will also have to complete a recommended mental health treatment program, and write three letters of apology to people affected by the case. Those letters will go to her family, the St. George Police Department, and her former coworkers at SkyWest Airlines.
Kenneth Combs, Rutz’s attorney, objected to his client writing a letter to her former coworkers, but Westfall imposed that aspect of the sentencing anyway.
Rutz’s coworkers said they felt taken advantage of by her behavior, Filter said. They told him they had helped with babysitting and time off on Rutz’s behalf, he said, while she recovered from a rape that turned out to be a hoax.
“They felt quite victimized,” Filter said.
In May 2012, Sarah Elizabeth Rutz told St. George Police she had been attacked and raped while jogging on a city path that dipped into a tunnel that ran under Sunset Boulevard near Dixie Downs Drive. The Police took the report and also eventually released an artist composite of the man that allegedly raped Rutz. As the investigation progressed, Rutz’s husband supplied police with deleted emails he found between his wife and a man in St. George. It was soon uncovered by the police that the two had had a short-lived affair.
Once confronted with the evidence, Rutz told police she had panicked and was afraid of how others would react if news of the affair got out. That is when she thought up the rape story.
Kenneth Combs, Rutz’s attorney, did not respond to calls for comment.
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