A former Centre County counselor was sentenced Thursday to concurrent prison terms of 30 days to 18 months and a fine of $2,500 for making false reports that she was abducted and sexually assaulted.
Cindy Brumbaugh, 51, of Howard, was accused in September 2013 of lying to police to hide that she was having an affair with a court-appointed client, identified as Dwayne McClellan.
The pair were involved in a car accident while on a trip in August 2013, and both had to be hospitalized. Police alleged that Brumbaugh created the abduction story to explain to her husband what she was doing with McClellan.
McClellan, however, was able to provide police with text messages he shared with Brumbaugh that corroborated the affair.
Brumbaugh owned and worked through the Actions Counseling firm in Bellefonte. Centre County officials canceled their contracts with Brumbaugh after learning of the accusations.
Potter County Judge John B. Leete said he reviewed a series of letters forwarded to him by Brumbaugh’s attorney, Stephanie Cooper, written by friends, family and members of the community that affirmed Brumbaugh’s character.
Cooper argued that Brumbaugh should receive a restorative sentence according to guidelines that consist of probation with supervision. A mental health evaluation and the letters of character show a woman who has suffered trauma that affected how she processes things and lives her daily life, she said.
Cooper said Brumbaugh has been a benefit to the county and has helped others in her role as a counselor.
Brumbaugh said she has been “absolutely humiliated” by the event. She grew up in a broken home, which led her to pursue the kind of work she did, and felt threatened and overwhelmed.
“Ultimately,” she said, “I know I have to answer to the court and to my God.”
District Attorney Stacy Parks Miller said Brumbaugh has had no remorse since the beginning of the case and has never taken responsibility for a cover-up that jeopardized her career. She also argued that if McClellan had not had text messages to back his story, he would be facing a lengthy incarceration.
“She was well-versed in knowing if she made the first allegations,” Parks Miller said, “she would be believed.”
Parks Miller read through several texts sent from Brumbaugh to McClellan in the days leading up to and after the crash, up to the point of Brumbaugh’s accusation, to show she did not feel threatened during the relationship.
McClellan testified that he never threatened Brumbaugh. He explained that the trip had been planned weeks in advance and that he never forced himself on her.
He verified that Brumbaugh had direct access to his parole officer. “Based on her words,” he said, he felt she could have him locked up.
Prior to sentencing, Leete said he was waiting for Brumbaugh to take responsibility for her actions.
“I’ve heard you are a woman of compassion,” he said. “But compassion has nothing to do with this.”
He said Brumbaugh hasn’t accepted “a lick of responsibility” for her actions and, as such, she wouldn’t be treated differently for her actions.
“You convinced the court there was no other choice,” he said.
Brumbaugh audibly wept during the sentence reading.
“We are pleased the court saw this for exactly what it was,” Parks Miller said in a statement. “She was willing to burn 30 years of (McClellan’s) life in a maniacal effort to put out the fire she set in her own.”