DETROIT – A Michigan woman whose alleged trail of lies led to the release of a man convicted of raping her was charged Monday with fraud after investigators said she tricked an insurance company and sympathetic supporters into believing she had cancer.
It was Sara Ylen's second criminal case in just a few days. The 38-year-old Lexington resident also is charged with filing a false report of rape in September.
Besides those cases, Ylen was involved in the prosecution of James Grissom, who was convicted of raping her in a parking lot, despite no physical evidence. A judge threw out the conviction after authorities learned she had made up sexual-assault allegations in California, information that wasn't available to the defense at the 2003 trial.
Grissom, now 55, was released from prison in November after nearly 10 years.
"She's getting what she deserves," Grissom said when told about the new charges.
He said he still can't find a job or a permanent place to live and is considering a move to Tennessee.
"She's ruined my life," Grissom said.
Ylen appeared in a Sanilac County court Monday, 90 miles northeast of Detroit. She was charged with six crimes, all related to her claim of cancer, said chief assistant prosecutor Brenda Sanford. Most are related to false insurance claims, although one involves raising more than $1,000 from the public.
"Based on a very thorough investigation by the state police, they have not been able to corroborate her claim that she had cancer," Sanford said. "This has been a very long and complicated investigation."
Ylen couldn't be reached for comment, and it wasn't known if she has an attorney yet.
Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan paid more than $94,000 in hospice care for Ylen from 2009-2011, state police said.
"Ylen identified several physicians that had made a diagnosis of cancer. The investigation revealed that none of the physicians had in fact made that diagnosis," state police said.
In a separate case, in neighboring St. Clair County, she was charged last week with making a false report of rape and tampering with evidence. Investigators said Ylen's bruises were created with makeup.
The Associated Press doesn't name people who say they've been victims of sexual assault. But Ylen talked freely to the Port Huron Times Herald about the Grissom case, saying she wanted to speak publicly about her ordeal. That was in 2003, years before he was released from prison.
Ylen said she was raped before attending a wedding rehearsal dinner in 2001 but didn't report it to police for another year. She believed she saw Grissom in the rearview mirror of her car, but it turned out that he didn't regularly drive. Ylen eventually picked him from a series of police mugshots.
Ylen claimed she got cancer after Grissom infected her with a sexually transmitted disease during the attack.