A Bridgton woman who told police she had been raped on the Back Cove walking trail in Portland, but recanted the story days later, has pleaded not guilty to a charge of filing a false report.

Sarah Dodge, 35, had been scheduled to appear Thursday in the Cumberland County Courthouse in Portland to face the misdemeanor charge. But because her attorney, Dori Chadbourne, filed a not guilty plea Tuesday at the courthouse on her behalf, Dodge will not be required to appear Thursday before Justice Joyce Wheeler.

Chadbourne did not immediately return a phone message Wednesday seeking comment. Dodge does not have a publicly listed phone number and could not be reached for comment.

Dodge initially told police on Aug. 12 that a man attacked her in broad daylight on the popular waterfront walking trail, prompting police to increase patrols in the area and issue safety recommendations to residents. Dodge told police she was attacked near the half-mile marker behind the soccer field and adjacent to Interstate 295 around 12:15 p.m. She had gone to Maine Medical Center in Portland for treatment after the alleged rape and filed a police report afterward.

Police launched an extensive investigation, used dog teams to search the area for evidence and interviewed numerous hikers and joggers who frequent the area.

Police conducted a follow-up interview with Dodge on Aug. 14, questioning her about contradictions between her account and those of witnesses who were in the area at the time, leading her to recant her allegations.

Court records include no other details about the allegations against Dodge other than the description of the misdemeanor charge against her. If found guilty, she faces up to one year in jail and a $2,000 fine. Police did not arrest Dodge, but issued her a court summons.

Police Chief Michael Sauschuck said in August after police decided to charge Dodge that the department had expended “extensive staff hours” during the two-day investigation. But the department will not try to recoup those costs, he said.

Dodge has only one entry on her criminal record, according to the State Bureau of Identification: a charge of misdemeanor theft by unauthorized taking or transfer in Westbrook on March 10, 2014.

Police and advocates for sexual assault victims expressed concern that the high-profile fabrication would make it more difficult for victims to come forward and could reinforce the misconception that many sexual assault reports are false.

Only subscribers are eligible to post comments. Please subscribe or to participate in the conversation. Here’s why.

Use the form below to reset your password. When you've submitted your account email, we will send an email with a reset code.