Alberta alderwoman told to stay away from council after conviction
Last Updated Tue, 29 Jun 2004 19:26:11
CALGARY - The Alberta alderwoman who made headlines last year when she falsely claimed she was abducted and sexually assaulted while on a trip to Montana has been found guilty of public mischief.
A provincial court judge convicted Dar Heatherington on Tuesday. The Lethbridge politician will be sentenced Sept. 10. Heatherington faces up to five years in prison.
"I found that Mrs. Heatherington was not to be trusted to tell the truth," said Judge Peter Caffaro in his decision. He added that the Crown had proven its case beyond a reasonable doubt.
Dar Heatherington and husband David arrive for court. (CP photo)
Lethbridge mayor Bob Tarleck appealed to Heatherington to step down from her political position.Tarleck said the city solicitor is looking into barring Heatherington from council meetings.
"I think it would be an awkward situation."
He said the city has considered using the courts to force her to resign but municipal elections are slated for October.
Heatherington made international headlines in May 2003 when she disappeared on a business trip to Montana. She showed up in Las Vegas three days later, claiming to have been drugged, kidnapped and sexually assaulted.
Heatherington later recanted her tale of woe to Montana police, but subsequently told the media she was sticking by her original version of events.
- INDEPTH: Dar Heatherington Timeline
She avoided a criminal record in the U.S. by agreeing to stay out of trouble for a year and see a psychiatrist.
Heatherington was charged with public mischief last year following an eight-month investigation into allegations she was being stalked.
Sexually explicit letters and phone calls
The investigation into the stalking claim began when Heatherington went to police in October 2002. She said she had received phone calls from an anonymous man who began by complimenting her work at city hall and then started to make comments about her body. Heatherington didn't save any of the calls.
- FROM MARCH 2, 2004: The husband did it, Heatherington's lawyer says
Once she reported the calls to police, Heatherington began to receive letters at her home. Again, at first they dealt with her abilities as a politician, but then became sexually explicit.
Police in Lethbridge said she made it all up and charged her with public mischief.
Police officers spotted Heatherington reading books on stalking – passages of which turned up in the letters – and said she ignored their advice to not run alone.
Officers also testified that they began to doubt her story when Heatherington lied about where a letter had been delivered. They set up a surveillance camera at Heatherington's front door, which the family knew about, and a secret camera at the back door.
Heatherington told them one of the letters had arrived at the back door, but the tape didn't support that.
Written by CBC News Online staff