Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Psychiatric treatment sought as alternative to prison for woman who falsely accused father of sex assault

A 40-year-old Calgary woman who falsely accused her father of sexually assaulting her should undergo psychiatric counselling and not be sentenced to prison, her lawyer told a provincial court Friday.

On Oct. 5, 2010, Lori Lee Gnam told police, hospital staff and social workers that her father kicked her in the stomach and then injured her during a sexual assault, according to an agreed statement of facts.

Gnam, who had been living with her parents for eight months, told police her father became furious and asked her to leave when she told him she felt she was being taken advantage of and would no longer pay rent at their home.

After deliberately injuring herself, Gnam was taken to hospital, where she told medical staff her allegations.

Police were summoned, but her surgeon questioned the cause of the injuries, indicating they were inconsistent with the type of assault she claimed had occurred. Det. Marlene Hope of the police sex crimes unit also questioned the validity of the claims.

Three months later, Gnam admitted she had caused the injuries herself in a failed suicide attempt.

At Friday’s court appearance, her lawyer, Stephen Jenuth, asked for a conditional sentence.

Jenuth said his client, who was emotional throughout the hearing, is remorseful for causing harm not only to her father but also for wasting police resources. He recommended Gnam undergo one year of psychiatric treatment.

But Crown prosecutor Julie Morgan asked for the more serious sentence of three years in prison, based on the seriousness of the false allegations and the length of time Gnam continued to lie to police.

“She had plenty of time to retract her story . . . but she just kept going,” Morgan told the court.

Morgan recommended Gnam go to the Edmonton Institution for Women, where there is a voluntary therapy program.

Gnam’s sentencing date was set for Aug. 28.