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A lawyer who fabricated a story of being kidnapped from downtown Toledo in December and dumped off near Atlanta three days later apologized to law enforcement officials and the public yesterday during her sentencing in Toledo Municipal Court.
Karyn McConnell Hancock, 35, of 2663 West Village Drive was sentenced to two years of probation with a three-month jail sentence suspended, a $300 fine, and 40 hours of community service for a misdemeanor conviction of making false alarms.
"I ask for their forgiveness for my actions [and] for all the pain and inconvenience I caused," she said, offering no explanation for making up the story. "I hope they are able to find it in their hearts to forgive me."
She pleaded guilty to the charge in January and could have faced a maximum punishment of six months in jail and a $1,000 fine.
Visiting Judge David Faulkner, retired from Hardin County Common Pleas Court, also ordered Ms. McConnell Hancock to continue receiving treatment for depression, which he said initially may have triggered the situation.
Ms. McConnell Hancock and her husband, Bishop Lawrence Hancock, were quickly ushered out of the courtroom after the sentencing.
Ms. McConnell Hancock, who gave birth to a daughter three weeks ago, was six months pregnant when she went missing in December. A national search ensued, and local family members and friends held prayer vigils hoping for her safe return.
When she was found near an amusement park outside of Atlanta, she told authorities she had been kidnapped near the Lucas County Juvenile Court building in downtown Toledo and driven south. She later recanted her story.
Before imposing the sentence, Judge Faulkner noted that Ms. McConnell Hancock had no prior criminal history and had been cooperative throughout the proceedings.
"She has admitted her error and appears to the court to be remorseful," he said.
But the judge also stressed that she was a lawyer and in a position "to know better" when she faked her own kidnapping.
In January, Ms. McConnell Hancock submitted a letter to the Ohio Supreme Court stating her intention to resign from the state bar. The matter is pending in the Supreme Court.
"While there was no physical harm or physical damage, there was economical loss to taxpayers, to this community, and to the community in Georgia where she found herself," Judge Faulkner said. "The court considers this an offense against the public and against the justice system."
Ms. McConnell Hancock's attorney, Jerry Phillips, said his client understands the significance of her actions and said the exposure of her problems has brought her some relief.
"I've seen a changed, a more relaxed person, a more confident person, and a better person both for her family and this community," Mr. Phillips said.
Ms. McConnell Hancock, who is the daughter of Toledo Municipal Court Judge C. Allen McConnell, also in January admitted to embezzling more than $130,000 from the estate of a murdered Toledo city worker.
Similar accusations from other clients are pending against her, and the Lucas County Prosecutor's Office continues to investigate theft claims.
Mr. Phillips said he is unsure why Ms. McConnell Hancock faked her own kidnapping, but said it likely was related to the "psychological pressure she was under knowing other matters were coming to fruition."
"It probably put her in a tremendous strain and it was just a way to relieve that pressure," he said after the sentencing.
Ms. McConnell Hancock and Mr. Phillips are scheduled to meet with investigators and county prosecutors Tuesday to discuss the theft and forgery accusations against her.
Mr. Phillips said Ms. McConnell Hancock has agreed to answer any questions authorities have regarding the matters.
Ms. McConnell Hancock was reported missing on Dec. 5 after she failed to pick up her 3-year-old son from day care. Bishop Hancock received a call from his wife the following afternoon saying she had been kidnapped. Three days later, Ms. McConnell Hancock turned up in Cobb County, Georgia.
She returned to Toledo that evening and, during a local police interrogation later, Ms. McConnell Hancock admitted she lied about being kidnapped.
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