CBSN

Hoaxer's Phone Linked To Sect Abuse Calls

Rozita Swinton, 33, of Colorado Springs arrested April 16 and later released on a misdemeanor charge of false reporting in a February case in Colorado Springs with no known ties to the raid in west Texas.
KEYE
An unsealed arrest warrant indicates that at least one of the phone calls which triggered a child abuse investigation against a fundamentalist Mormon sect may have been a hoax, from a woman claiming to have multiple personalities.

According to the affidavit made public Wednesday, a phone number used to report alleged abuse at the FLDS compound in Texas has been linked to a woman suspected of making false abuse claims in Colorado.

It's not yet clear whether authorities suspect Rozita Swinton, 33, of Colorado Springs, made the calls that triggered the April 3 raid on the compound. The arrest warrant affidavit released Wednesday says that several calls alleging abuse there were made using several phone numbers, including the number linked to Swinton.

The more than 400 children found at the retreat in Eldorado are now in state custody. Texas officials and lawyers have said that even if the call that prompted the raid turned out to be a hoax it would not affect their custody case because the state acted in good faith.

Swinton was arrested April 16 and later released on a misdemeanor charge of false reporting in a February case in Colorado Springs with no known ties to the raid in west Texas. She's accused of posing as a teenager named "Jennifer" and falsely claiming in a 911 call that her father had locked her in her basement for days, the arrest warrant affidavit released Wednesday said.

Swinton's whereabouts were unknown and she did not immediately return a phone message. It wasn't known whether she had an attorney.

CBS station KEYE-TV correspondent Keith Elkins reports that Swinton has a history of claiming to be a repeat victim of sexual abuse, of filing false reports, of using many names - and claiming to have "different personalities," according to Colorado Springs Police.

Swinton pleaded guilty to misdemeanor false reporting in a 2005 case out of Castle Rock, Colo.; a one-year sentence was deferred. She had claimed in phone calls to be a 16-year-old named Jessica who was suicidal after giving birth; there was no baby.

"The investigator ... was surprised at her age because she sounded like someone who was in her mid- to late teens even though she was 30," Castle Rock police Lt. Douglas Ernst said.

The warrant also links Swinton to calls made throughout October from a "Dana Anderson." The caller claimed to be a young woman being abused by her pastor at Colorado Springs' New Life Church, and later as a 13-year-old student at Liberty High School who said she was being drugged and sexually abused by her father.

Officers linked the calls to Swinton in March after a Colorado Springs counselor got someone named Dana Anderson to acknowledge that her first name was Rozita, the document said.

In mid-April, Texas Rangers called Colorado Springs police regarding their investigation into the Eldorado polygamist retreat, Yearning for Zion Ranch.

The calls that triggered the raid of the ranch were purportedly made by a 16-year-old girl who said her 50-year-old husband beat and raped her. Texas authorities have not found that girl but say they have found evidence other children were abused.

Texas Ranger Brooks Long asked Colorado Springs police about two telephone numbers (both with Colorado Springs area codes) that were used to make calls to a Texas crisis center. One of the phone numbers, the document says, "was possibly related to the reporting party for the YFZ Ranch incident," and was one of the numbers police had connected to Swinton.

The document says the calls were made sometime since October but was not more specific. The raid was triggered by three calls made March 29 and 30 to the Newbridge Family Shelter in Texas.

Texas authorities also are investigating a separate batch of calls made to a crisis center in Washington state.

Authorities have called Swinton a "person of interest" in the Texas case. Two Texas Rangers were with Colorado officials when they searched Swinton's home.

Texas authorities said the search turned up several items suggesting a connection between Swinton and calls regarding the Eldorado retreat and other Texas and Arizona compounds owned by the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, a renegade Mormon sect. The items weren't identified.