GREAT FALLS (AP) — A Canadian city alderwoman who told police she was kidnapped while on a business trip here and raped now faces a misdemeanor charge of lying to police, a prosecutor said Thursday.
Cascade County Attorney Brant Light said Darlene Heatherington admitted to Great Falls detectives that she made up the story, and that she had actually driven with a man voluntarily from Great Falls to Las Vegas.
"The best we could get was that she had met an individual here, a married man from Alberta," Light said Thursday. "For whatever reason — she wouldn't give much reason — she needed to get away, and they drove to Las Vegas."
Heatherington, 39, an elected alderwoman in the town of Lethbridge, Alberta, disappeared from Great Falls Saturday. Authorities said she telephoned her husband in Lethbridge and said she was going bicycling. A search by local authorities turned up no trace of her.
Heatherington was found late Tuesday at an entrance to the Treasure Island hotel-casino on the Las Vegas Strip. She was described as distraught and told Las Vegas police she had been kidnapped, drugged and raped.
She spent Tuesday night in a southern Nevada rape-crisis shelter and flew out of Las Vegas Wednesday in a jet that her husband chartered. Las Vegas police said she left without filing a police report or completing a medical exam to collect evidence of a sexual assault.
Heatherington stopped in Great Falls, where Light said local investigators questioned her at length Wednesday evening. Light said Heatherington at first maintained she had been kidnapped and raped but eventually changed her story.
Light said he decided to file the charge because local authorities had spent a great deal of time searching for Heatherington after she disappeared.
"Obviously she needs help, and I hope she goes back to Canada and gets help, because she's obviously a very troubled woman," Light said.
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