By Kevin Jenkins
ST. GEORGE - A woman accused of filing a false police report that she was raped on a jogging trail under Sunset Boulevard last year pleaded guilty to the charge Wednesday as part of an agreement with prosecutors.
Sarah Rutz, 27, pleaded guilty to a felony count of making a fraudulent claim to the crime victim reparations fund and a misdemeanor count of providing false information to a law enforcement officer.
Two other counts of false information to an officer were dismissed under the agreement.
Sentencing is scheduled for May 7, but Judge James Shumate allowed the attorneys to dictate the terms that the court will commit to because a new judge will preside over the final hearing after Shumate’s retirement at the end of this month.
Under the terms of the plea and sentencing agreement, Rutz will serve 30 days in the Washington County jail on a weekends-only schedule and must complete restitution payments to the victim fund.
After completing her jail term, she will serve a period of court-ordered probation. Once the probation is finished successfully, Rutz can file a motion to have the felony count reduced to a misdemeanor, but Shumate warned Rutz that if she violates her probation she could end up doing additional jail time.
“Judge (G. Michael) Westfall will be bound to those terms … if you successfully complete your probation,” Shumate said.
In May 2012, Rutz reported she was attacked by a stranger on the path that crosses below street level near Sunset Boulevard and Dixie Drive, touching off a temporary closure of the trail amid a police investigation and search for the suspect in the community.
Male DNA samples not belonging to Rutz’s husband were collected during a sexual assault response at the hospital, and Rutz twice reported seeing her alleged attacker in the community while she received more than $25,000 in financial assistance from the crime victim fund for recovery-related services.
But in September 2012, police reported Rutz’s story had unraveled after her husband found evidence she had contacted a man she met through the personals section of Craigslist. Police contacted the man, who said he and Rutz had a relationship, and the DNA collected during the investigation was found to match a sample he provided.