A Huntington Beach woman convicted of committing perjury to try to protect her boyfriend against allegations of sexually abusing a 13-year-old girl was sentenced Friday to a year in Orange County Jail and probation, with a Superior Court judge calling her false testimony “ridiculous” and “absurd.”
Cynthia Marie Dunaway-Erickson, 52, who was convicted Feb. 21 of one felony count of perjury and two felony counts of accessory after the fact, also was sentenced to three years’ supervised probation and was ordered to undergo psychological treatment.
The year in jail was the maximum possible while receiving probation.
“Until you are willing to acknowledge your wrongdoing, you have a lot of work to do, Ms. Dunaway,” Judge Maria Hernandez said during lengthy comments before delivering the sentence.
Defense attorney Kenneth Lewis argued that Dunaway-Erickson “needs counseling, not incarceration,” adding that she is “extremely depressed.”
Being in jail has “impressed the seriousness of what has happened,” Lewis said.
“We know it’s a serious crime,” he added. “Lying goes to the heart of the judicial system.”
Lewis recommended probation for his client and submitted six letters filed to the court attesting to Dunaway-Erickson’s character.
“There are many people who care for you and think highly of you,” Hernandez told the defendant. “You need to fix yourself. … I don’t want you to prey on anyone else.”
Dunaway-Erickson is the girlfriend of Jeffrey Scott Jones, who was convicted in 2016 of two counts of aggravated sexual assault of a child and one count of continuous sexual abuse.
According to prosecutors, between September 2012 and April 2013, Jones frequently abused a 13-year-old girl who was living with the couple and was one of two female minors in Dunaway-Erickson’s care. Prosecutors said Jones raped the girl on two occasions and threatened to ruin her life if she told anyone.
When Dunaway-Erickson testified during Jones’ trial in October 2016, she lied about how his semen got in the girl’s cervix, prosecutors said. She also asked her mother to lie and say the girl was molested by someone else, prosecutors said. Dunaway-Erickson was arrested in November 2017.
Dunaway-Erickson’s actions represented a “failure to protect [the victim],” Hernandez said.
Though the judge acknowledged the defendant’s own history of abuse, she called her behavior “offensive and disturbing.”
“I wish you could have put aside your selfish need for affirmation and validation from this man,” Hernandez said. “The level of desperation to hold onto this predator, that’s sad.”