SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) — A California state prison psychologist has been charged with faking her own rape in an unsuccessful bid to persuade her husband to move to a safer neighborhood, authorities said Friday.
Laurie Ann Martinez conspired with a friend to create the appearance that she was beaten, robbed and raped in her Sacramento home in April, according to conspiracy charges filed by the Sacramento County district attorney.
Investigators say she split her own lip with a pin, scraped her knuckles with sandpaper and had her friend punch her in the face with boxing gloves they bought for that purpose. She ripped open her blouse to expose her breasts, wet her pants to give the appearance she had been knocked unconscious, and was crying hysterically when police arrived, according to court papers.
Martinez, 36, a psychologist for the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation, told police she had come home that day to find a stranger in her kitchen.
"As she tried to run away, the suspect grabbed her and hit her in the face," court records say in describing what she told police. "She lost consciousness and then when she awoke she found her pants and underwear pulled down to her ankles."
Missing from her home were two laptop computers, Martinez's purse, an Xbox video game console, a camera and numerous credit cards that Martinez said the stranger had stolen.
In reality, the items were all at the home of her friend, Nicole April Snyder, authorities allege.
Martinez, her friend and two co-workers eventually told police the whole thing was an elaborate setup to convince Martinez's husband, David, that they needed to move.
It didn't work. Instead, the couple filed for divorce in May, six weeks after the April 10 incident at the home they shared, according to court records.
Martinez's two lawyers in the family court actions, Russell Carlson and Ben Ramsey, did not immediately return telephone messages seeking comment. Her husband's attorneys in the family law case declined to comment.
Martinez was arrested Monday and freed on $50,000 bond. There is no record that she has a criminal attorney before her arraignment set for Monday.
Snyder, 33, is charged with the same conspiracy counts. A warrant has been issued for her arrest, and there is no record that Snyder has retained an attorney, said Shelly Orio, a spokeswoman for the district attorney's office.
If convicted of conspiracy, each woman faces up to three years in prison, Orio said.
"If all you wanted to do is move, there's other ways than staging a burglary and rape," said Sacramento police Sgt. Andrew Pettit. "She went to great lengths to make this appear real."
Police detectives and crime scene investigators spent hundreds of hours on the case, he said, until one of Martinez's prison co-workers came forward to say Martinez had been talking at work about faking a crime at her home to persuade her husband to move.
"It doesn't sit well for other women who really are victims, crying wolf," Pettit said.
Martinez has been a psychologist overseeing other mental health workers treating inmates at California State Prison, Sacramento, said department spokeswoman Terry Thornton. The prison 20 miles east of Sacramento was the scene this week of a fight among more than 150 inmates that sent 11 inmates to outside hospitals.
Thornton said Martinez has been redirected to the department's headquarters and will have no contact with inmates until her criminal case is resolved.
Robert Kahane, executive officer of the California Board of Psychology, said Martinez's license currently is valid. However, "we are working diligently to ensure immediate and continued consumer protection as quickly as possible," he said.