Once again, to cover up cheating, a woman falsely accuses someone of rape. And while a fine is all well and good, the courts are going to have to start handing down custodial sentences for those who make these false claims.
False rape claim costs $7,000.
A woman who sparked a $6,000 police investigation after pretending she was raped in her home by two masked intruders was ordered to pay the full cost of the inquiry yesterday.
Michelle Lee Carreiro, of Cut Road, St. George's, appeared at Magistrates' Court where she pleaded guilty to wilfully and knowingly making the false report to Police last week.
Senior Magistrate Archibald Warner told her she could have been jailed for six months but instead he fined her $1,000 plus $6,000 reparation to Bermuda Police Service.
The 22-year-old gave detectives a 19-page statement about the fabricated October 15 attack but on Wednesday she admitted to officers at Southside Police Station that she made up the whole thing.
Acting Senior Crown Counsel Cindy Clarke said Carreiro's lie was aimed at covering up a sexual relationship she was having with her ex-boyfriend from her present partner.
Ms Clarke said: "The defendant stated that she had rough sex with her ex-boyfriend that night and that the sex was rougher than normal.
"Her ex-boyfriend had punched her on the right side of her face during the sex, leaving a bruise.
She stated that she did not know how she was going to explain this bruise to her current boyfriend and decided to report that she had been sexually assaulted to cover up the bruises.
"The defendant further stated that she did not think that the Police investigation would progress so fast and that she was sorry for making a false report to the Police."
Seven officers were deployed to investigate Carreiro's complaint, putting more than 100 Police manpower hours into the case.
She told them that at about 8.45 p.m. on October 15 she went to get her cell phone out of her car and was attacked from behind by two masked men. They forced her inside her apartment, she alleged, and took turns sexually assaulting her during a 15-minute ordeal, before fleeing on foot.
But Police inquiries, including a forensic examination of the scene, uncovered inconsistencies in the story.
Carreiro, who represented herself in court, told the Senior Magistrate: "I just want to apologise for making this false statement. I didn't know where to turn with the position I was put in, I put myself in, and I didn't think it would get blown up to this proportion."
She said her current boyfriend's mother called Police to report the attack and she "ended up just going along with it". "I also figured that if my ex, if he knew that this had happened to me, he would leave me alone as well."
Ms Clarke said Carreiro gave detectives such a full account of the "brutal sexual assault" and detailed descriptions of the supposed assailants that they were about to arrest two men in the East End when she confessed her lie.
The prosecutor added: "I don't understand why someone who has no previous convictions would do something like this. I don't know why any woman would think up a rape and one as brutal as this.
[FRS COMMENT: Why? Because there has been consistently, as reported by the media, little to no consequences for filing a false report. My question is, why wouldn't she make up the claim?]
"It put the community on edge that there were these people in the community who could break into a house."
Mr. Warner said: "She thought it was no big thing to make up a story, however serious, to cover her tracks."
He gave tearful Carreiro, a clerk at furniture importers Joshua Bates Ltd., until November 22 to pay the $1,000 fine or face three months in prison. She has until January 22 to pay back Police.
Assistant Police Commissioner Paul Wright said after yesterday's hearing that the local community was rocked by the rape claim.
"There's been a lot of policing activity to follow up on what on the face of it appeared to be a most serious and heinous offence," he said, adding that the entire Eastern Criminal Investigation Unit worked on the case, with support from the Serious Crime Unit.
"They've done a very extensive investigation every day for the last seven days. Unfortunately this takes resources away from other active investigations."
Police spokesman Dwayne Caines said: "By the fact that this came to court, our hope is that it sends a clear message to members of the public that would like to use the system for their own perverted means that they will be put before the court."
He added: "We do not want this to be a deterrent for individuals who have legitimate cases. We believe that it's important to work with vulnerable members of our community to make them feel comfortable in coming forward."