Portland police charge Bridgton woman with making up sexual attack

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PORTLAND — A Bridgton woman police say falsely reported an Aug. 12 sexual assault along Back Cove could face up to one year in jail if she’s convicted of the crime.

Assistant Police Chief Vern Malloch said Sarah Dodge, 34, whose address was not released, was issued a summons on a Class D charge of false public alarm on Aug. 20.

Dodge is scheduled to appear in the Cumberland County Unified Criminal Docket on Oct. 1 at 8:30 a.m.

Malloch said the summons was issued at police headquarters at 109 Middle St. The charge carries a maximum penalty of a year in jail and a $2,000 fine.

Dodge is accused of falsely reporting she was dragged into brush and sexually assaulted at 12:15 p.m. along the Back Cove Trail near Interstate 295. Police said Dodge claimed two people passing by helped thwart the attack.

Police said Dodge then claimed to have driven herself to Maine Medical Center, where police were called.

Following the alleged attack, police announced more patrols along the trail, including on bicycle. Detectives searched for clues throughout the area for another day as Police Chief Michael Sauschuck asked the alleged witnesses to come forward with more information.

Dodge recanted her story on the morning of Aug. 14.

“No crime occurred,” Sauschuck said later that day in a news conference where he praised the public response that ultimately helped unravel the story.

Sauschuck said a reward of $5,000 had been offered, and police heard from people who were on the trail at the time of the alleged attack.

“The motivation for (Dodge’s) actions are still unclear,” Malloch said when he announced the summons.

David Harry can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 110 or dharry@theforecaster.net. Follow him on Twitter: @DavidHarry8.

Portland police search the banks of Back Cove on Aug. 13 for clues stemming from an alleged Aug. 12 sexual assault. The woman who reported the attack has been charged with false public alarm.

Portland City Hall reporter for The Forecaster. Baltimore native, lived in Maine since 1989. A journalist since 2005, covering much of Cumberland and York counties. I joined The Forecaster in 2012.