Rozita Swinton

The woman suspected of making a hoax call that sparked the raid on the Fundamentalist LDS Church's YFZ Ranch will go to trial in an unrelated case.

Rozita Swinton, 33, pleaded not guilty in a Colorado Springs, Colo., court on Wednesday to a misdemeanor charge of making a false report to police. A judge set an Oct. 20 trial date.

"She's also scheduled for a pre-trial readiness hearing on Oct. 10," said El Paso County District Attorney's spokeswoman Lin Billings. "That could also be a plea date if a plea agreement is worked out prior to trial."

Swinton is accused in Colorado of making a phony abuse call to police, pretending to be a 13-year-old girl named "Dana" who was chained in a basement, drugged and being sexually abused. The February phone call prompted a door-to-door search by Colorado Springs police until they learned it was a hoax.

Texas authorities have declared Swinton a "person of interest" in their investigation into the call that launched the massive raid on the FLDS Church's YFZ Ranch. Colorado Springs police said in court documents that cell phones linked to Swinton were used to make the calls to family crisis shelters in San Angelo, Texas, and Everett, Wash.

Someone claiming to be a 16-year-old girl named "Sarah," called crisis hotlines and said she was pregnant and in an abusive, polygamous marriage to an older man named Dale Barlow. When Texas child welfare authorities and law enforcement responded to the ranch, they said they saw other signs of abuse that prompted a judge to order the removal of hundreds of children.

The children were returned when an Austin appeals court and the Texas Supreme Court ruled the state acted improperly in removing all of the children. An arrest warrant for Barlow was ultimately dropped and "Sarah" has never been found.

Swinton has also been suspected in other phony abuse calls where she takes on the persona of abused girls. Her foster mother has written that she suffers from multiple personality disorder. Calls to Swinton's attorney have not been returned.

A spokeswoman for the Texas Department of Public Safety said Swinton remains under investigation.


E-mail: bwinslow@desnews.com