by Robert A. Waters
In 2009, reporter Mike Connell wrote a “sweetheart” story for the Port Huron Times Herald about thirty-four-year-old Sara Ylen. She was dying, he wrote, fighting a losing battle with cancer. The myeloma had been contracted because of a sexually transmitted disease brought about by a brutal rape that occurred in 2001. (Fortunately, Connell wrote, the rapist, James Grissom, was serving 15 years to life in a Michigan State Prison.)
“The disease has spread through her body,” he reported, “including tumors on her spine and clavicle…Ylen is partially paralyzed. Her bones snap at the slightest misstep. The options for treating her cancer are complicated by the hepatitis, which is destroying her liver.”
“Yet hope remains,” Connell wrote, “a fragile tendril, a rootlet reaching for moist soil.”
It was all a lie.
In fact, Ylen’s whole life seems to have been one of falsehood and deception. Doctors recently discovered that Ylen has no life-threatening diseases, and never had. She pleaded no contest to health care fraud for collecting more than $100,000 in services and donations. She currently is awaiting sentencing on that charge.
Last week, she was also convicted of making a false rape report and sentenced to five years in prison. In 2012, Ylen accused two men, Terry Stone and Kevelin Patton, of breaking into her home and gang-raping her. In addition, she claimed the men brutally beat her. Stone and Patton were lucky—police secured documentation proving that the accused couldn’t have done it because they were at work when the attack occurred. In addition, the physician who examined her rape claims used gauze to wipe the “bruises” off her face.
Even worse, in 2003, her false accusation of James Grissom sent him to prison for ten years. There had been absolutely no evidence against him. He was convicted only on Ylen’s testimony. The alleged victim then appeared on several television documentaries recreating her alleged rape and later ordeal. It took a decade, but investigators finally determined that the rape was a figment of her imagination. Grissom was released last year.
Throughout her life, Ylen has made numerous other claims of rape. She accused her own father and brother of sexually assaulting her. Then she said her brother tracked her from Michigan to California and, with several friends, gang-raped her. In Bakersfield, California, she told police she had been raped in a restaurant parking lot, then kidnapped and gang-raped numerous times. All of these claims turned out to be lies.
In sentencing Ylen to five years in prison for the false rape accusation against Stone and Patton, St. Clair County Circuit Judge Daniel Kelly said: “This is a tormented and disturbed woman who will go to extraordinary lengths to wreak havoc upon other individuals, potentially subjecting them to life imprisonment in order to gain sympathy and notoriety for herself. Nothing in the guidelines gives adequate weight to the diabolical nature, the methodical orchestrations, or the callousness of her treachery.”
But even five years didn’t satisfy James Grissom. “I did ten years,” he said. “She should have gotten at least ten years.”