GREAT FALLS - A Canadian alderwoman who admitted lying to police about being abducted and raped agreed Tuesday to undergo counseling in exchange for having misdemeanor charges against her eventually dropped.
Darlene Heatherington, 39, signed the deal with local prosecutors that requires her to give written proof that she is seeing a psychiatrist. She must stay out of trouble for a year and pay court costs of $100. If she meets those requirements, charges against her will be dropped after one year. She was not required to enter a plea, but pleaded innocent in Great Falls Municipal Court shortly after signing the agreement with prosecutors.
Heatherington, an elected alderwoman from the town of Lethbridge, Alberta, disappeared earlier this month while on a business trip to Great Falls. She turned up three days later at an entrance to a casino on the Las Vegas Strip. Authorities said she appeared disoriented, and she told investigators in Las Vegas and Great Falls that she had been abducted and sexually assaulted.
Great Falls authorities, however, say she eventually admitted making up the story, and said she actually had met a man in Great Falls and traveled willingly with him to Las Vegas.
At a brief court appearance Tuesday, Judge Nancy Luth chastised Heatherington about her three-day disappearance.
"I want to say to you, Mrs. Heatherington, that your reckless behavior has caused a lot of expense to the residents of Great Falls and your family," Luth said.
Kory Larsen, an assistant city attorney who drew up the offer, said it was made because Heatherington doesn't have a previous criminal record.
It's paramount that she get psychiatric help, however, he added.
David Heatherington, who accompanied his wife to court Tuesday, said last week that she is getting medical attention from her physician and a psychologist.