Woman gets probation for false accusation

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— A 31-year-old Steamboat Springs woman was placed on one year of probation for falsely accusing a Routt County Sheriff's deputy of sexually assaulting her in February.

On Wednesday morning, Kelly Caroline Landers was not given a jail sentence by Routt County Judge James Garrecht for her guilty plea to false reporting of a crime, a misdemeanor.

Along with the probation, Garrecht ordered the woman to perform 72 hours of community service and imposed a $100 fine. The woman must also pay $138 in court costs.

Garrecht also ordered the woman to write a letter of apology that can be included in the deputy's personnel file.

Garrecht imposed this sentence despite arguments that were made by Deputy District Attorney David Moffat and the accused deputy.

Moffat said because of Landers' action, the deputy was the focus of an internal investigation and the accusation has been placed in his personnel file.

"Because he gave her a ride home, his life was thrown for a loop," Moffat said. "His personnel file will follow him throughout his career.

"Jail is appropriate in this case because it sends a message to the community that this will not be tolerated."

The deputy asked for Garrecht to impose a sentence that "sets a precedent for me and other officers who have to face unfounded allegations."

"My family and I are deeply hurt and disappointed," the deputy said.

Landers pleaded guilty to the charge in April for falsely reporting the deputy sexually assaulted her and exposed himself the evening of Feb. 5.

Garrecht decided against imposing a jail sentence for the crime, which is punishable by 180 days, because of the woman's apology in court and the fact she can't remember the evening.

"Jail would not do anyone any benefit here," Garrecht said. "I don't think this is a good case to send a message to the community."

Landers, who was intoxicated at the time, cannot remember what happened and apologized repeatedly to the deputy during the hearing.

Landers suspects a "date rape" drug may have been slipped into one of her drinks while out with a friend that evening. She said she had three shots and three beers that night.

"I'm more sorry than you will ever know," Landers said to the deputy fighting back tears. "I know my job means everything to me. I'm sorry I put yours in jeopardy. It was wrong."

According to court records, Landers was involved in an argument at Strawberry Park Middle School at about 10:12 p.m.

Sheriff's deputies went to the school to investigate. When a determination was made a crime had not occurred, the deputy gave Landers a ride to her home off Walton Creek Road.

During the ride home, Landers told the deputy she was embarrassed he had to give her a ride home and she was mad at him, records show.

Before Landers got out of the vehicle outside her home, she asked for the deputy's name.

At 11:05 p.m., Landers called police to report she had been sexually assaulted by the deputy.

Steamboat Springs officers responded to the woman's home to investigate and found her sleeping. When questioned if she had been sexually assaulted, Landers said "no," records show.

"I don't remember a thing," Landers said. "I lost six hours of my life I can't remember. I don't remember the ride home. I don't even know what you look like until now.

"I'm sorry. I'm so sorry. I mean that from the bottom of my heart."

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