An Ontario woman, who falsely accused her ex-husband of a number of violent acts including attempted rape and domestic violence, has been sentenced to jail time.

The woman claimed that her ex-husband broke into her apartment, threw her onto her bed, choked her repeatedly, threatened to kill her, and attempted to rape her several times. She showed police officer injuries to her neck which had been allegedly caused by the ex-husband.

These allegations ultimately led to the ex-husband spending 19 days in jail before the woman eventually recanted her claims.

Court Slams False Domestic Violence Allegations

The woman pleaded guilty to public mischief. During sentencing, Justice Karen Lische criticized the woman’s actions, stating:

When you did what you did, you not only hurt (the ex-spouse), you hurt every real victim out there, every real complainant… It takes a great deal of courage when you are the victim of an offence [to] come forward alleging an offence of domestic violence where there is a breach of trust, violence where you are injured, or attempted sexual intercourse where your sexual integrity is violated … Now, because of what you did, real victims may be less likely to come forward and less likely to be believed … The damage you have done goes far beyond the 19 days (the ex-spouse) spent in jail for a crime he didn’t commit …

In making her sentencing decision, Justice Lische further commented that the Crown’s (i.e. prosecution’s) request for 60 days of jail time was “very lenient”.

Other Factors Considered

The woman’s defense lawyer had suggested a conditional sentence, stating that the woman was recovering from a drug addiction, had gone to anger management classes, and was a changed woman. The lawyer also produced a letter from the woman’s daughter who asked that her mother not be sent to jail.

Factors that ultimately worked against the women were a prior criminal record, including several jail terms, and a negative pre-sentence report.

Prosecutors noted that the fact that “a totally innocent man spent 19 days in jail” was “an attack on the justice system”. The Crown emphasized that the 60-day jail sentence for the woman was intended to emphasize the seriousness of her actions to the public.

Justice Lische also emphasized the significant impact of the woman’s misconduct, stating:

When you go to a police officer and pretend to be a victim, the police officer begins investigating the case, but that takes that officer away from investigating real cases,” said the judge. “(Your story) was calculated. You inflicted injuries to your neck. You said they were caused by someone. You gave a sworn statement to police. You knew (the ex-spouse) was arrested and in custody …One day went by. Two days went by. A week went by. Nineteen days went by knowing an innocent man was in jail.

Lessons Learned

Separations and divorces are extremely stressful and emotional and, as we’ve blogged about before, can sometimes lead former partners to make serious allegations (often wrongful) about one another. At the end of the day, no matter how angry or contentious a divorce becomes, former spouses should never make allegations about one another that are not true.  This can seriously damage your credibility, work against you during ongoing court proceedings. In more serious situations, such as this one, it will lead to a waste of police resources, serious criminal implications, and unwanted media attention.

Of course, if you are dealing with domestic violence in your marriage, take all necessary steps to protect your safety and the safety of your children. Once you do so, you can then focus on your legal rights and on moving forward.

If you have questions about your spouse’s conduct, contact the family lawyers at Gelman & Associates to learn how we can help protect your rights. Our phone lines are open Monday to Friday from 8 AM to 8 PM. Call us at (416) 736-0200 or 1-844-736-0200 or contact us online for an initial consultation.