updated 7/1/2004 1:44:19 PM ET 2004-07-01T17:44:19

Audrey Seiler, the University of Wisconsin-Madison student who faked her abduction, was sentenced Thursday to three years’ probation after she pleaded guilty to two misdemeanor counts.

Seiler read a statement during the court hearing in which she attributed the ordeal to severe depression that caused her to act irrationally.

“I’m taking care of myself now, so someday people will see I’m still a girl to be proud of,” said Seiler, who withdrew from school after the widely publicized incident and is in therapy.

Seiler, 20, pleaded guilty to two counts of obstructing officers as part of a plea agreement.

Her March 27 disappearance touched off an intense search as national TV played footage from a surveillance camera that showed her leaving her off-campus apartment building with no coat or purse, a month after she had reported an attack by an unknown assailant.

Relationship had broken up
She turned up in a marsh March 31, claiming she had been abducted at knifepoint, but her story quickly crumbled. Investigators later said she faked the abduction because she was upset by a fading relationship with her boyfriend.

Seiler, of Rockford, Minn., nodded softly Thursday as Dane County Circuit Judge James Martin ticked off the conditions of her probation. They include reimbursing the Madison Police Department $250 a month, an amount that could increase to $400 a month if she graduates and gets a job before her probation ends.

Seiler can have the charges expunged from her record if she completes her probation. She could have faced up to nine months in jail and a $10,000 fine for each of two misdemeanor charges.

Dane County District Attorney Brian Blanchard described Seiler’s conduct as narcissistic and said she selfishly and intentionally deceived police.

“She’s not in court today because she’s depressed. ... She committed a series of selfish acts without regard for others,” Blanchard said.

Her attorney, Randy Hopper, said the former college student began a spiral of depression after an aunt died, and problems with her boyfriend exacerbated her troubles. Hopper claimed she had a breakdown and she had no idea what she was doing during the days she went missing.

“Everybody has different levels of coping skills. She probably discovered her coping skills weren’t what she hoped they’d be,” Hopper said.

'Lost in a very real sense'
After the hearing Seiler’s mother, Stephanie, thanked the media, police and searchers for their efforts.

“The fact remains she was lost in a very real sense,” she said.

Seiler also claimed she was struck from behind in February by an unknown assailant and knocked unconscious. She said she was moved about a block or so from where she was attacked but was not sexually assaulted or robbed.

Hopper said Seiler still insists that attack happened. Blanchard declined to comment.

Dozens of volunteers from her hometown traveled to Madison in March, slogging through marshes and woods around campus looking for any sign of her. She turned up March 31, curled in a fetal position in a marsh near a state office building.

Seiler told police that a man had abducted her at knifepoint.

But police concluded Seiler made up the story after obtaining a store videotape that showed her buying the knife, duct tape, rope and cold medicine she claimed her abductor used to restrain her. Seiler confessed after she was confronted with the tape, saying, “I’m just so messed up,” according to authorities.

But she later recanted the statement, insisting she had been abducted.

© 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


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