November 20, 2014

Woman convicted of lying about being gang raped is going to prison

A Wilber woman will serve time in prison after she was convicted of making up a story she was gang-raped at a southern Gage County recreation area in 2011.

Twenty-eight-year-old Jennifer Valenta was sentenced in Gage County District Court on Wednesday to serve a 20-to-48-month prison term for tampering with evidence, attempted prostitution and false reporting.

District Judge Paul Korslund called it a disturbing case.

Elliott Hawkins of Wymore, initially accused of rape in the investigation, filed a lawsuit against Gage County and four Gage County Sheriff’s officers, asking for damages and seeking a jury trial over his arrest. He is seeking damages for lost earnings capacity, damage to reputation, emotional distress and humiliation.

In Valenta’s sentencing, Judge Korslund said the case could have a negative impact on actual victims of sexual assault.

The judge denied a defense request for probation for Valenta, who is a mother of three children and who has successfully completed drug court. Judge Korslund said the case required a prison term that gives Valenta a reasonable opportunity for parole.

According to a court document, experts consulted by the state said injuries Valenta suffered did not match the timeline of the alleged rape.

Valenta allegedly later admitted the injuries were self-inflicted two days later, caused by fingernails and the handle of a disposable razor.

By Doug Kennedy, KWBE, Beatrice