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Disbelieving rape report costs Cranberry $1.5M

| Sunday, Dec. 16, 2012, 11:59 p.m.

A case involving a rape victim and Cranberry police who arrested her on charges of making up the story has ended with the woman receiving a $1.5 million settlement, township officials confirmed on Sunday.

“We're sorry it all happened. We're glad it's resolved, and we hope everyone can move forward,” Township Manager Jerry Andree said.

The case began at 10:40 p.m. July 14, 2004, when Sara Reedy, now married and named Watt, was working the second shift at the JG Gulf station on Route 19.

A man walked into the store and stole money from the cash register. Then he held a gun to her temple and demanded that she perform oral sex, she told police.

After the attack, Watt called 911 and went to UPMC Passavant Cranberry, where she was interviewed by Detective Frank Evanson.

He contended that she made up the story to cover up her stealing about $600. He charged her with falsely reporting a crime, theft and receiving stolen property.

Watt spent five days in jail until posting bail.

A month before her trial, police in Jefferson County arrested Wilbur Cyrus Brown II as he sexually assaulted a store clerk. Brown admitted to two other attacks, including the one on Watt.

Butler County authorities dropped the charges against her.

The Tribune-Review could not reach Watt for comment, but a story in The London Observer quoted her as saying, “I'm relieved that people will be able to see now that I was telling the truth. Although mine is an extreme case, I'm not the first — and I won't be the last.”

Andree said United National Insurance Co., the township's insurer, will pick up all of the settlement, except for Cranberry's $5,000 or $10,000 deductible.

Watt will get $800,000, and her attorneys, Leech Tishman Fuscaldo & Lampl, $700,000, according to the settlement. She will get an upfront sum of $80,000 plus monthly payments of $5,500 between 2013 and 2017, $5,000 a month from 2018 through 2022, and $3,857 a month from 2023 to 2027. She also received a separate $45,000 settlement with Butler County.

The $1.5 million settlement ends Watt's federal lawsuit and spares both sides further attorney fees. The Third U.S. Court of Appeals had sent the case back to U.S. District Court.

“There are a lot of regrets about how it all turned out. It certainly was all unintended consequences,” Andree said.

Everson, who remains on the police force, was not disciplined, Andree said.

Bill Zlatos is a staff writer for Trib Total Media.He can be reached at 412-320-7828or Staff writerBill Vidonic contributed to this report.

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