SOUTH BEND, Ind. (CBS/WSBT) Prosecutors in South Bend, Ind. were forced to drop their case against a 26-year-old woman accused of having sex with teenage boys before their first witness even finished her testimony - that's because their witness says it was the teenagers who were the rapists.
Sara Smith was originally charged with four felonies, including child molestation and sexual misconduct with a minor, accused of instigating sex acts with as many as six teens between the ages of 14 and 15, at her Mishawaka home in Sept. 2009.
The surprise testimony came from the prosecution's first witness, a 14-year-old girl, who said she saw the teens holding the woman down and "taking turns" with her during a party at the woman's home, according to CBS affiliate WSBT.
"They forced her," the girl testified. "They held her legs down. ... She was saying 'No, get off of me.'"
According to prosecutors, the witness never told that version of events to them or to the police who first investigated the case, the station reported.
"It was not what she had said in the past and, in fact, was very, very different," Deputy Prosecutor Liz Hurley told the judge. "In the interest of justice, I don't believe I can pursue this case."
In his opening argument, defense attorney Anthony Luber told the jury that Smith was the person who first brought the case to the police after realizing her laptop was missing and told police that a group of teens who were at her house earlier may have taken it.
Smith also told officers the teens had raped her.
That report led to a hospital trip and a rape kit being completed, Luber said. The attorney asked jurors to listen closely to the young men expected to testify during the trial and how their version of events changed over time from "nothing ever happened" to "it was consensual" to "she forced us into it," WSBT reported.
During her opening, Hurley argued that despite Smith first contacting police and alleging sexual assault, further investigation proved that claim wrong. But after Tuesday's testimony the prosecution can't be sure what the truth is.
"Either [the witness] was not telling the truth to investigators or she was not telling the truth in the courtroom," prosecutor Michael Dvorak said. "At this point in time, we need to take a step back and re-examine everything while recognizing this (14-year-old's) statements cannot be believed in any further case."
For now Smith is out of jail and she told WSBT that she hopes the teens involved will be held accountable for their actions.ALSO ON CRIMESIDER