Michigan Woman Who Made False Rape Claim Is Given Five Year Sentence

article-2326336-19a6ae47000005dc-939_306x423We previously discussed the false rape allegation of Sara Ylen who fabricated a story that two men had entered her home about 80 miles from Detroit and raped her. She also lied about having cancer as a result of the rape. One man, James Grissom, served 10 years because of Ylen lies. She has now been sentenced to 5 years. What is disturbing however is that, as noted in the earlier posting, the role of prosecutors in the case was highly questionable and yet there is no indication of any discipline for those responsible for this case.

Ylen said that she was taking a nap when she was bound and raped. She went to police eight days after the alleged attack and was seen by Dr. William Starbird. He testified that he cleaned what appeared to be lacerations and bruises on her face with gauze. They wiped off. He then spotted a discarded makeup compact in the examining room.

In 2003, James Grissom was convicted of raping Ylen. He was released after 10 years for a new trial after it was discovered that Ylen had made false allegations of rape in California. Prosecutors never shared that with Grissom’s trial attorney. The prosecutors also prosecuted Grissom despite the fact that there was no evidence, no surveillance video, and no other witnesses supporting Ylen’s claim that in 2002 she was raped in broad daylight in a store parking lot of a Meijer store. Grissom worked there and had a prior sex-related crime. However, Ylen did not go to police for an entire year after the alleged attack. Police arrested Grissom based on the fact that Ylen said that the attacker had a skull tattoo. That was it. He was convicted and even given an enhanced sentence because she claimed that he gave her a sexually transmitted disease.

St. Clair County Judge Daniel Kelly sentenced the 38-year-old Lexington woman to two to four years for filing a false felony report and three to ten years for tampering with evidence. The sentences will run consecutively with a five year minimum of two years for making a false rape report and a consecutive three-year sentence for the tampering charge. The latter offense dealt with that makeup used to look like bruises. What is notable about the sentence is that she was given more time for the makeup than the false rape charge.

There remains huge differences in how false rape charges are handled, including a number of cases that prosecutors decline any prosecution at all of the women. I have previously discussed the pattern of prosecutors in either not charging false rape victims or seeking relatively light sentences despite the incarceration of innocent men. (here, here, here, here, here, and here).
Perhaps the most infamous refusal to charge such a case involved Crystal Gale Mangum, 33, the stripper who falsely accused members of the Duke lacrosse team. She became a national celebrity as activists warned that anything but long criminal sentences would be proof of racism by the prosecutors. Durham D.A. Mike Nifong joined this lynch mob atmosphere despite the absence of forensic evidence to support the claim of rape. When he was removed and the lie was exposed however North Carolina Attorney General Roy Cooper refused to prosecute Mangum, who ruined the lives of these students and triggered racial tensions in the region. Cooper simply let her walk in a disgraceful but politically expedient decision.

This sentence seems well deserved. However, once again, the prosecutors appear able to walk away without the slightest responsibility for their role in bringing about this manifest injustice. Coverage of the case does not even raise the question of the responsibility of prosecutors, which only reinforces the sense of immunity for prosecutors in pushing for convictions with little evidence. Prosecutor Michael Wendling (who did not prosecute Gresham) refused to even have the office apologize for its role in the conviction. He stated that his office turned over the information from California undermining the conviction when it became known to them. He insisted ““The criminal justice process worked the way it’s supposed to. We followed the rules.” What rules are those? Putting aside the claim that this information only became known later, what about the virtual absence of evidence supporting the case. The judge referred to “air-tight alibis and doubts of police” when the case was first brought. The judge referred to “air-tight alibis and doubts of police” when the case was first brought. Wendling simply said that they did not have the evidence to secure an additional conviction and left it at that.

Given the appeals taken unsuccessfully by Grissom, the case also raises questions about the willingness of courts to seriously review such claims as well as the effort by prosecutors to preserve the conviction of an innocent man.

32 thoughts on “Michigan Woman Who Made False Rape Claim Is Given Five Year Sentence”

  1. The eye for an eye regimine would be appropriate. All the time he got she should get. Cut out her tongue for the lies.

    1. It just goes to show how harmless one lie can be and how detrimental others can be. Oh, you’re not really that fat, or oh, you raped me.

  2. I think she should have gotten three times his incarceration period; 15 years. Five years is not very long for the harm she has caused others. This women is pretty evil and we should send a message to other women as there have been many throughout history that have done this.

    It reminds me of those who help put people to death for the crimes of others; very seldom are they prosecuted.

    Sad, very sad. Our country is not what we were taught growing up. Either, we need to change or start teaching our children the truth, so they do not grow up oblivious to the truth.

  3. What lawyer in his/her right mind is going to call for a fundamental change in the incentive prosecutors have to do as they’ve done for centuries here in the land of the free and home of the brave (sic)?

  4. Hear no prosecutorial misconduct, see no prosecutorial conduct, and speak of no prosecurorial conduct.

    The prosecutor can do no wrong.

  5. The L.A.P.D. shot and killed unarmed Brian Bieard after a police chase when he tried to walk away from an accident, police said Bieard was drunk, I saw the chase it lasted a long time for a drunk driver. Police fired 22 shots at him

  6. randy, Believe me, having sat down and prepared rape victims for trial, including children, I REMEMBER why the pendulum has swung. That said, women like this need to be prosecuted and incarcerated.

  7. The divide between the police and public is widening. The public responds with demonstrations. The police respond with more corruption and abuse, too witless to comprehend that critical mass is rapidly building against them.

  8. The police and prosecutors can do no wrong, but this is a fair sentence for this serial liar. -rafflaw

    Speaks to the first point:


    “In Fullerton, a Kelly Thomas protest that’s even more painful

    His family joins others in a protest at the Fullerton police station. What’s different from 2011 is the acquittal of two officers.”


    Lawyers on the blog:

    Five years is the minimum sentence, with 14 years as the upper limit, unless I’m missing something. In reality, how much time is she likely to serve?

    (In February, she’ll be sentenced on other charges, but some are saying that the sentences will run concurrently. Is this typically the case? Is there any flexibility?)

  9. the only way this terrible injustice will end is to begin PROSECUTING prosecutors. take away their immunity and then they will stop this. as will the judges who go along to get along…

    as for this woman. she is going to lie on the wrong person one day and false rape claims will be the least of her worries…

    If only there was a way to unpo(lie)ticize these positions then our jails will begin to empty of the wrongfully accused. i for one believe that the prosecutors should have to take the place of the wrongfully accused. if its found that the prosecutors played loose and fast with evidence and knew it. then their next stop should be the very same jail cell…..

  10. What a country -Bruce


    “Our government is the potent, the omnipresent teacher. For good or for ill, it teaches the whole people by its example. Crime is contagious. If the government becomes a law-breaker, it breeds contempt for law; it invites every man to become a law unto himself; it invites anarchy.” -Justice Brandeis



    About 150 people gathered Saturday morning in front of the Fullerton Police Department to demand justice for Thomas. Last week, in a jury found former Fullerton police officers Manuel Ramos and Jay Cicinelli not guilty in Thomas’ death.

    For some, like 22-year Fullerton resident Julie McDonnell, showing up Saturday was a way to say that the verdict wouldn’t dampen people’s cries for justice.

    “We did lose this battle,” she said. “But we’re not going to stop fighting for change in Fullerton and across the country.”

    Others, like Curtis Johnston, said they showed up because they’ve already seen the power of protests in Fullerton.

    “In most cities where something like this happens, the officers are back on the job in a few weeks,” he said. “Not in this city.”

  11. He does 10 years for doing nothing and she does 5 years for helping put him there. and the prosecutors get a nice retirement for doing a terrible injustice. What a country

  12. I think that we need to remember why the pendulum has swung to the extreme as in cases like this. A close family member of mine was raped in North Carolina, and the cops simply refused to investigate it since they hated so called hippies. Then we still have the GOP members in the legislatures and Congress spitting on women and their rights. So while I am all for prosecuting the women who make bogus charges of rape, and the prosecutors who frame innocent men, there are still many women who do not report such things. In short, I think that there needs to be some legal means of holding such prosecutors and cops more accountable. So let’s not throw out the women with the bath water.

  13. When I was helping prosecutors convict rapists 30 years ago the victim was not protected. The pendulum has swung the other way. We need to find balance, and one way is to prosecute victims who lie.

    Regarding the Duke Lacrosse scandal. Someone who was never held accountable was the Duke President who hung those kids out to dry, as did many professors. But, the President led that lynch mob. There are also not very many held accountable in academia.

  14. The prosecutors are further completely immune from civil suit, no matter how egregious their behavior in prosecuting it.
    Women in general get a pass far too often on these false allegations, and the is in the rarer case when it is proven to be false.
    The opposite trend is in full force, encouraging and protecting even obviously false allegations. Prosecutions and sentences like these need to happen more often to deter this widespread behavior.

  15. The only way it seems to can easily bring down public officials such as prosecutors is to prove that they took money from the county.

  16. We hear a lot about reckless/abusive cops, but it seems that prosecutors are just as bad.

    We need more oversight/control of prosecutors.

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