Rockland woman sentenced for falsely reporting sex crime
Rockland — A 30-year-old Rockland woman was sentenced to 60 days in jail Aug. 28 following a trial earlier this month where a jury determined she falsely reported to police her boyfriend sexually assaulted her.
Octavia Faustini was found guilty on two misdemeanor counts Aug. 1, unsworn falsification and making a false public report.
Assistant District Attorney Jeffrey Baroody sought a sentence of 90 days in jail, considering the basis of the allegations and Faustini's criminal history. Faustini was convicted of a similar crime in 2002, creating a false report of a sexual assault.
Defense attorney Joseph Steinberger said jail would not be an appropriate sentence and that incarcerating his client would be detrimental to her mental health.
"I'm thinking less in terms of punishment than therapy," he said.
Steinberger proposed the court continue sentencing to allow Faustini to volunteer at New Hope for Women or the animal shelter.
"Her problem is a lack of respect for herself, and being useful would create respect," he said.
Faustini's case manager, Lisa Dehlinger, who has worked with her for six months, said Faustini sought help from the mental health agency she works for and has made progress, learning coping skills and gaining a a sense of self.
" I would ask the court to impose a punishment appropriate for a mentally ill person, not a criminal," she said.
Justice Jeffrey Hjelm sentenced Faustini to serve 60 days for both charges and added his decision was the lowest sentence he could justify taking into account the seriousness of her allegations and the jury's decision to reject her testimony.
Hjelm also said Faustini is a vulnerable person, who was not afforded the advantages many people receive and take for granted. He said the difficulty in imposing a decision on sentencing was compounded because probation is not a lawful sentence for the crime, as dictated by the Legislature, leaving jail time as the only reasonable alternative.
In a statement to police, Faustini said she and her former boyfriend, whom she accused of rape, had been in a relationship for about one month. She said on Sept. 30, he had become violent with her and she asked him to leave. Later, the boyfriend returned, and Faustini said he forced himself on her while she told him no repeatedly.
Detective Russell Thompson of the Rockland Police Department noticed inconsistencies in Faustini's accusations of the assault in statements made to police, according to court documents.
Faustini's defense attorney, Joseph Steinberger, said there were not material inconsistencies in his client's report to police and added she was intimidated during interviews and then believed she had done something wrong. Faustini's formal education ended when she finished fifth grade.
"It's hard if the police refuse to believe you," Steinberger said after the trial. A person being prosecuted by the state with limited resources at their disposal is going to have a difficult time having their story told, he said.
During one interview, court papers state Faustini conceded in part that she fabricated the allegations of assault to get him out of her life.
The man Faustini accused of rape is a convicted sex offender. The man, a lifetime registrant, was convicted on two separate charges: gross sexual assault in 2001 and unlawful sexual contact in 2009.
Faustini was aware her former boyfriend was a convicted sex offender, Steinberger said.
She will begin her sentence Friday, Aug. 30, at the Knox County Jail.
Courier Publications' reporter Juliette Laaka can be reached at 594-4401 ext. 118 or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
594-4401 ext. 118
Juliette primarily covers the cops and courts beat for The Courier-Gazette.
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