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Woman who claimed she was raped now faces fraud charges

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ST. GEORGE — A woman who claimed she was attacked by a stranger and raped while jogging on a bike path made up the story, police say.

Sarah Elizabeth Rutz, 25, was charged Tuesday in 5th District Court with two counts of filing a fraudulent claim for crime victim reparations, a second-degree felony and a class B misdemeanor; and two counts of providing false information to police, a class B misdemeanor.

Rutz claimed that on May 2 she was jogging on the bike trail in a tunnel that runs beneath Sunset Boulevard when she was knocked to the ground and raped. In July, police even released a sketch drawing of the man based on a description Rutz gave.

But almost immediately, investigators "noticed inconsistencies between what Ms. Rutz described as having had happened and what was found at the scene of the alleged crime," according to an arrest warrant filed in 5th District Court.

Still, on two occasions during the investigation, Rutz contacted police claiming she had just seen a man who resembled the person who raped her.

I don't know if the motive at the beginning was ever to take the money. As the money started coming in, I think it was something that fell into place.

–Capt. Kyle Whitehead

Following a months-long investigation, including interviews with Rutz, detectives determined DNA samples collected matched a man she had met on Craiglists and had consensual sex with, according to court records.

"When confronted with the DNA evidence and other evidentiary inconsistencies, Ms. Rutz admitted that she had lied about being raped," the charges state.

During the investigation, however, Rutz collected more than $25,000 from the Utah Office for Victims of Crimes, allegedly to compensate for various services she said she needed because of the alleged crime.

St. George Police Capt. Kyle Whitehead does not believe Rutz necessarily made up the story just to commit fraud.

"I don't know if the motive at the beginning was ever to take the money. As the money started coming in, I think it was something that fell into place," he said.

Because police feared Rutz would flee to family in Indiana to avoid prosecution, an arrest warrant was issued and she was booked into the Washington County Jail.

Whitehead said that while it's sad that Rutz made up the rape story, he is relieved to know that a rapist isn't running loose around the bike trail.

"We don't get a lot of reports of these types of things. It's not a common crime. When we get reports like this, we really become concerned. We want our area to be safe," he said.

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Pat Reavy


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