SASKATOON — A Saskatoon woman with a long history of mental-health problems pleaded guilty to a mischief charge this week over a phoney sex-assault tale that prompted a full-scale river search.
Michaela Rose Brown was 19 when she called 911 with a horror story on Sept. 10, 2007.
Brown said she had been sexually assaulted by a group of five males who had followed up the attack by tying her hands behind her back and dumping her into the river.
When officers found her, she told them she'd been with a female friend, who had also been tied up and thrown in the water.
The city's emergency responders swung into high gear to scour the shoreline for the missing woman, calling out canine units, a police plane, divers from the fire department's water rescue team and ambulance personnel.
Meanwhile, Brown was taken to hospital — where she refused to co-operate when staff tried to perform a standard sexual-assault kit on her, Crown prosecutor Deb Black told court.
After turning up nothing at the river, police went to the home of the supposedly missing woman, where they found her, safe and sound.
The friend said she had not been with Brown at all that day. When they confronted Brown, some confusion arose about whether she might have given the wrong last name for the missing woman, so police decided to continue the search, Black said.
During an interview with a police sergeant about four hours after she first called 911, Brown admitted she'd fabricated the whole incident.
Police learned she had a long history of mental-health problems and was under the care of a psychiatrist, court heard.
Brown's false allegation cost Saskatoon Fire and Protective Services about $7,000 — and that doesn't include the hours of work expended by a large number of police officers, Black told court.
Defence lawyer Michelle LeClair-Harding said Brown, now 22, has struggled with her mental health since she was a child and that, as a child, she was in and out of foster care and was exposed to physical, emotional and sexual abuse, as well as domestic violence.
At the time of the incident she was not taking medication and was going through a period of "teenage angst," LeClair-Harding said.
Judge Donna Scott accepted a joint recommendation from the Crown and defence to give Brown an 18-month suspended sentence, during which she will be on probation and must take any treatment or medication prescribed to her, and attend any programming ordered by her parole officer.