CRIME

Woman arrested in sex fantasy hoax was really victim, prosecutors say

Diaz, left, is accused of trying to frame Hadley, right.

Diaz, left, is accused of trying to frame Hadley, right.  (Maricopa County Sheriff's Office/Orange County district attorney's office)

A Southern California woman has been exonerated of charges that she responded to "rape fantasy" ads on Craigslist in order to get men to attack her ex-boyfriend's new wife, prosecutors said Wednesday. They now say that it was the new wife who was trying to frame her husband's ex.

Charges were dropped against Michelle Susan Hadley, 30, of Ontario, who was "the innocent victim of a diabolical scheme" that also included phony death threats, Orange County District Attorney Tony Rackauckas announced.

Prosecutors instead have charged Angela Marie Diaz, 31, with kidnapping, false imprisonment and perjury. Diaz, who is originally from Arizona and had moved back there, was arrested in Phoenix on Friday and is awaiting extradition.

The man who links the two women is Ian Diaz, an agent with the U.S. Marshals Service, who dated Hadley in Anaheim, Calif., from 2013 to 2015 before marrying Diaz, according to court records. Prosecutors said they have no evidence he was involved.

The bizarre events began in June, when Diaz reported to Anaheim police that men had been arriving at her home to engage in a "rape fantasy" encounter, prosecutors said.

Prosecutors said men were intercepted by police and told them they thought they were going to engage in a consensual act.

The officials said Diaz also called 911 and falsely reported that a man attempted to rape her in her garage, and she appeared with her shirt ripped and her neck red.

At the same time, Diaz told police Hadley had been threatening to have her raped, and had also sent threats that included graphic photos saying she would kill her and her unborn child. Diaz had faked the pregnancy, prosecutors allege.

The false evidence led authorities to arrest Hadley, who then faced 10 felony charges and the possibility of life in prison, according to The Los Angeles Times.

But the case fell apart as authorities learned all the threats and solicitations had allegedly come from Diaz herself. Diaz used her phone, the condo she shared with her husband, and her father's home in Arizona to make the calls and emails, prosecutors said.

Hadley was released in October and was officially exonerated Monday.

"This has been a huge nightmare for me — probably the most traumatic experience of my life," Hadley said on the courthouse steps Monday, the newspaper reported. 

"I'm glad it's finally over, and I can move on."

Diaz is also accused of faking cervical cancer, forging doctor's notes, and posing as an attorney, prosecutors said.

Prosecutors have not identified a motive. Rackauckas suggested it involved a "love triangle," and said the attempted frame-up may have been meant to "put the dagger into the older relationship," The Los Angeles Times reported.

Ian Diaz and Hadley are involved in a dispute over a condo they bought when they were dating, the Orange County Register reported.

Deputies reached by phone could not say whether Angela Diaz had hired a lawyer who might be reached for comment, and a phone listing for Ian Diaz could not be found.

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The Associated Press contributed to this report.