Powhatan woman sentenced for falsely reporting assault by Black couple


POWHATAN COUNTY, Va. (WRIC) — A 63-year-old woman will spend time behind bars after falsely accusing a Black couple of assault this past summer.

According to the Powhatan’s County Sheriff’s Office, Gladys Townsend told authorities she had been assaulted by two people, a Black woman and Black man, along Ridge Road on June 30.

The Powhatan Today Newspaper reported that in the hours after the alleged incident was reported, “an incendiary Facebook post began to circulate about the alleged assault offering a $1,000 reward for the attackers’ capture.”

Townsend later confessed, however, that she fabricated the assault and was charged with filing a false police report.

Powhatan County Deputy Commonwealth’s Attorney Robert Cerullo told 8News Monday that Townsend pleaded guilty and was sentenced to 12 months with six months suspended.

When asked for additional comment, Cerullo told 8News: “The only thing I would say is that the sentence was fair due to the inflammatory nature of the false allegations. As Judge Paul Cella said at sentencing, in our [current] environment, this was like lighting a match to a tinder box.”


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