A suspended 30 day jail sentence, for filing a false rape claim. Because, as her attorney, Bill Helsley, said: His client is "going through a rough time...Good people sometimes have difficult times." The only problem with that, Mr. Helsley, is that good people don't file a false claim of rape when they are having a rough time. Bad people do. All the rescue squad work she did, while admirable, does not make up for this.
Assistant Commonwealth's Attorney Louis Nagy, said it best:
"The stigma [of being falsely accused of rape] can be insurmountable to recover from."
30 day suspended jail sentence for false accuser
Grottoes Life Saver Enters Plea
By Pete DeLea
HARRISONBURG - The former president of the Grottoes Rescue Squad, who claimed she was attacked and raped outside the rescue squad building on Augusta Avenue last month, pleaded guilty on Friday to filing a false police report.
Kimberly Dawn Pendleton, 37, of Grottoes, pleaded guilty to the misdemeanor charge in Rockingham County General District Court. Judge John A. Paul sentenced Pendleton to a suspended 30-day jail term and required her to write a public letter of retraction.
At the time of the incident, Pendleton was president of the rescue squad and was an active member, according to the squad's Web site.
Pendleton's attorney, Bill Helsley, said his client is going through a rough time, adding that her entire life has been dedicated to helping others.
"Good people sometimes have difficult times," Helsley said.
On June 2, prosecutors said, the Grottoes Police Department responded to a call at the rescue squad and found Pendleton lying in the grass behind an ambulance.
When rescuers got there, police said, she appeared to be unconscious, according to prosecutors.
They said she told officers she had been attacked from behind and raped. She did not name anyone specifically as her alleged attacker.
Assistant Commonwealth's Attorney Louis Nagy said one of the things that made police suspicious of the claim of rape was Pendleton's refusal to undergo a full rape kit at the hospital.
Only a partial rape examination was performed, Nagy said.
Pendleton's behavior led police to investigate the incident further and, during subsequent interviews, she retracted the claim. Pendleton was charged on June 19 with filing a false police report.
Pendleton could not be reached for comment and calls to Grottoes Police Chief John Painter were not returned.
Calls to multiple rescue squad officials also were not returned and it's unclear if Pendleton is still with the rescue squad.
Nagy: Fake Claims Worry Public
Nagy said rape allegations involving a stranger can cause the public to worry about their safety.
"The report of something that violent has a tendency to make people nervous," said Nagy. "It's certainly something we take very seriously. Any time someone accuses another person of something violent, it has lasting effects."
He said the rape investigation also took police off other cases they could have been working on. Three of the town's five sworn officers were subpoenaed to testify in the case.
"It takes away police manpower from real potential crimes," said Nagy. "They could be focusing on crimes that might actually be going on."
Nagy said Pendleton never named an attacker.
"Luckily she didn't name any names," said Nagy. "The stigma [of being falsely accused of rape] can be insurmountable to recover from."
In the letter of retraction, addressed to current rescue squad President Alisa Randolph, Pendleton said the rape claim was false and asked for forgiveness.
"I am making this statement to you as president and hope you will accept my apology for any embarrassment I may have caused you or Grottoes Rescue Squad," the letter states.
Contact Pete DeLea at email@example.com