After sparking an extensive investigation, a former New York TV meteorologist admitted Wednesday that she invented claims of being assaulted by a stranger in Central Park.
Heidi Jones, 38, who was once an on-air meteorologist for New York's WABC-TV, pleaded guilty to two misdemeanor counts of falsely reporting an incident, and will serve 350 hours of community service and three years probation. She was also ordered to get psychiatric counseling.
Jones simply wanted to bring attention to herself through the false report, telling the police that she was attacked by a Hispanic man while jogging in Central Park, and later near her apartment.
I made it up for attention. I have so much stress at work, with my personal life and with my family, she said, according to a court document.
Jones was arrested in December after an intensive police search for the alleged attacker. Sentencing is set for Oct. 26.
This has been a tragic case for Heidi Jones. She was at the pinnacle of the broadcast industry at ABC and Good Morning America and her life has really been destroyed, her professional life, by this incident, and Heidi, from the moment I first met with her, she wanted to accept personal responsibility for what she had done, defense attorney Paul F. Callan said.
Callan said that since her arrest Jones has been unemployed and struggling financially and has had to give up her former apartment.
Hopefully, this resolution today will make it possible for her to move on with her life and to make amends, Callan added. She's paid a high price for the crimes she pleaded guilty to, he told The Associated Press.