Iowa City woman accused of faking domestic assault

Woman wanted to spend birthday with boyfriend

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IOWA CITY — An Iowa City woman is accused of faking a domestic assault so she could have the father of her child arrested.

According to Iowa City police criminal complaints, on Feb. 6, 30-year-old Stephanie A. Cole called 911 to report that her child’s father had punched her.

Before officers responded to the scene, a co-defendant, 29-year-old Jessica Morales, punched Cole in the eye so she would have an injury, police said. Police said Cole was crying “hysterically” as she gave a false report about the assault. Morales also corroborated Cole’s version of the events and gave officers a voluntary statement, police said.

As a result of her actions, the father of Cole’s child — who also lives with Cole — was arrested and charged with domestic assault. Police said Cole and Morales admitted to having her child’s father arrested so he would be out of the house and she could have a romantic encounter with her boyfriend on her birthday.

This is the second example of someone being arrested for faking claims of assault or harassment to land someone in jail. Iowa City police arrested 26-year-old Amanda Danalewich in January after they discovered a “life-threatening” email she allegedly received in September from a man barred from contacting her was actually written by Danalewich on the victim’s old cellphone. The man spent more than 40 days in jail due to the fabricated threat, police said.

Speaking specifically about the Cole case, Iowa City police investigator Scott Stevens, who handles domestic violence cases, said Tuesday these sort of incidents are “rare occurrences” and the officers conducted a “thoughtful investigation” into the original domestic assault report.

“This was a case where this was a carefully thought out plan by these two,” Stevens said. “They presented a very good case.”

Stevens said the two false report incidents will not change how officers handle reports of domestic assaults or other investigations.

“We know this is an isolated incident and it’s not going to change our approach to any investigation we handle,” he said.

Cole has been arrested and faces charges of malicious prosecution and making false reports of an indictable offense to a public entity. Both offenses are serious misdemeanors punishable by up to one year in jail.

Morales has been cited and released for making a false report, a simple misdemeanor punishable by up to 30 days in jail.

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