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DA: WABC-TV Meteorologist Made Up Attack For Attention

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Heidi Jones outside a Manhattan courthouse on Jan. 5, 2011 (Photo/Juliet Papa)

Heidi Jones outside a Manhattan courthouse on Jan. 5, 2011 (Photo/Juliet Papa)

NEW YORK (AP / CBSNewYork) — A TV meteorologist told police she concocted claims of being attacked because she was under personal and professional stress and wanted attention, a court document released Wednesday shows.

Heidi Jones said nothing as she appeared briefly in a Manhattan court Wednesday to answer misdemeanor charges of false reporting. Her lawyer, Paul F. Callan, said she would fight the charges and had been “unfairly characterized and vilified” in some press reports on her case.

WCBS 880’s Irene Cornell reports

“I would urge everybody to understand that there is a presumption of innocence that applies even to Heidi Jones in this case,” Jones’ attorney, Paul Callan said.

1010 WINS’ Juliet Papa speaks with Jones’ lawyer

Jones, who has been suspended from her job at WABC-TV, told police Dec. 1 that she’d been attacked in Central Park in September and then again outside her apartment in November, according to a court complaint prosecutors filed Wednesday.

Police have said she told them the same man targeted her both times — the first time while she ran in the park — and she provided a detailed description including the alleged attacker’s race, height and clothing. A detective unit that specializes in investigating sex crimes spoke to possible witnesses and canvassed the area to look for a suspect.

Police detectives actually did pick up a Latino who vaguely fit Jones’ description, but he was not arrested, reports CBS 2’s Pablo Guzman. He was quickly released, and the police apologized.

Callan has said Jones never told police she was the victim of a rape, but has declined to elaborate on what she did say to investigators.

Ultimately, when a detective spoke to Jones again around midnight on Dec. 13, she admitted she’d fabricated the assaults, the court complaint said.

“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 the document.

Released without bail, Jones is due back in court March 16. The misdemeanor charges against her carry the possibility of a year in jail if she’s convicted.

A spokeswoman for WABC-TV didn’t immediately return a call Wednesday about Jones.

Jones, 37, has been with the station for about five years and has anchored its weekend evening weather coverage. She also has filled in on ABC’s “Good Morning America.”

She previously worked in cities including Albany, N.Y., and Houston, where she gave a weather forecast while running a marathon.

“Heidi is extremely grateful to the support that has been demonstrated to her by her broadcast colleagues and by her many viewers,” Callan said.

(TM and Copyright 2011 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2011 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

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