Supreme Court reinstates case against woman facing false rape claim

2014-06-06T15:51:00Z 2014-06-27T11:41:12Z Supreme Court reinstates case against woman facing false rape claimBy EDDIE GREGG egregg@billingsgazette.com The Billings Gazette

The Montana Supreme Court has reinstated a criminal case against a 23-year-old German woman who prosecutors say came to Montana as an exchange student in 2009 and repeatedly made false claims that she was raped and assaulted by three different men over the next several years.

In December 2012, the attorney general’s office charged Christina Nadine Nelson, also known as Christina Nadine Mark, with felony tampering with or fabricating physical evidence. Prosecutors allege she misled investigators by going through a sexual assault nurse examination at a Billings hospital after falsely claiming to have been raped by an ex-boyfriend Aug. 10, 2012.

In response to a motion by Nelson’s attorney, District Judge G. Todd Baugh issued an order dismissing the charge in July 2013. He stated that it was obvious Nelson lied about being raped, but that because no crime had been committed against her, there was no evidence of a rape for her to tamper with or fabricate.

The state appealed the case to the Supreme Court, which issued an order last week overturning Baugh’s ruling and sending the case back to Yellowstone County District Court for prosecution.

“Although Nelson’s body and the samples taken therefrom (in the sexual assault examination) were not ‘false’ in the sense of being forged or fabricated, they were certainly false in what she presented them to be — evidence of a physical assault,” the supreme court’s order states.

Nelson’s whereabouts are unclear, but her Facebook profile lists Billings as her current city. After Baugh dismissed the case and it was on appeal, he granted Nelson permission to travel to Germany and Switzerland, over objection from prosecutors.

Nelson’s attorney, Penelope Strong, did not respond to a request for comment.

There is a $15,000 arrest warrant for Nelson out of Flathead County, where the attorney general’s office also charged her in a similar case with making false claims that she was both physically and sexually assaulted by her Columbia Falls High School prom date in 2009. She has also been charged with making a false claim of $8,100 in medical bills to the Crime Victim’s Compensation Program.

In that case, Nelson falsely claimed to have been raped and assaulted with a knife while on the way to prom with her date, according to prosecutors.

Nelson went through a sexual assault examination at a hospital in Kalispell and had lacerations to her neck area, but a photo taken the night of the prom at a time after she claimed the rape happened doesn’t show any injuries to her neck, according to charging documents records.

Her alleged attacker was expelled from school for the rest of his senior year, even though Nelson ultimately didn’t pursue criminal charges against him after investigators confronted her about inconsistencies in her rape claim.

Later in 2009, after Nelson moved to Billings, she claimed her boyfriend raped and assaulted her, after he tried to end their relationship while they were attending college together, prosecutors said.

Nelson again went through a sexual assault examination, but then refused to cooperate with investigators. That boyfriend maintained he never assaulted Nelson and he transferred to another school after receiving threats and being branded a rapist, court records state.

In 2011, Nelson went to a Billings hospital, claiming she had been stabbed by another boyfriend, but then refused to cooperate with investigators, prosecutors said. Over the next year and a half, she made more rape and assault claims against the same man, including two claims of rape made in April 2012 after he broke up with her. In each of those instances, she went through a sexual assault examination, but then became uncooperative with law enforcement. In one instance, phone records showed the man was out of state at the time Nelson claimed to have been raped.

On Aug. 10, 2012, she went to a Billings hospital and again claimed that she had been raped by the same man in the parking lot of her workplace in the Heights, according to charging documents. She again went through a sexual assault examination, which turned up evidence of sexual intercourse. However, she didn’t tell the nurse who did the examination that she had intercourse earlier in the night with her husband, something investigators later determined.

Police reviewed surveillance footage of the parking lot where Nelson claimed to have been raped and found no signs of her being there at the time she claimed to have been attacked, court records say. They also reviewed gas station footage and financial records that showed her alleged attacker was actually out of state at the time the rape supposedly occurred.

“The three men who have been wrongly accused of rape and assault by the defendant deserve to have this case prosecuted,” Assistant Attorney General Mary E. Cochenour wrote in her objection to Nelson being allowed to travel to Europe. “Allowing the defendant to travel to Germany while this case is pending presents the risk that these men may never have their names cleared of these horrific false claims of rape and assault.”

Copyright 2014 The Billings Gazette. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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