'Bachelor' Clayton Echard's False Accuser Referred for Criminal Prosecution

Photo credit Alexandra Zakos

Laura Owens may have pulled her last courtroom scam. On June 10, Clayton Echard, ABC’s former 'Bachelor,' got to have his day in court to defend himself against Owens’ accusations of fathering twins with her. The judge ruled for Echard in a scathing indictment of Owens’ behavior and, in a rare move, referred Owens to Maricopa County Prosecutor Rachel Mitchell for prosecution for felony perjury and evidence tampering.

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Owens admitted under oath to tampering with medical records she claimed were hers, including a sonogram and HCG blood test results. Judge Mata ruled on Wednesday that several parts of Owens’ testimony were “uncreditable and a misuse of judicial resources.” Owens had claimed at a November 2 hearing that she was “100% pregnant” and 24 weeks along and had seen her OBGYN Dr. Higley the week before the hearing. 

During Monday’s trial, evidence presented to the court showed that she never saw any OBGYN. Judge Mata wrote, “Petitioner was not treated by Dr. Makhoul, or Dr. Higley as testified to in her November 2, 2023 hearing on the IAH (Injunction Against Harassment).” The court also found that “failure to seek an in person care for a high-risk pregnancy” was “unreasonable and incredible.”

While Owens repeatedly hung her hat on a Banner Urgent Care urine test that showed a positive pregnancy result, the judge found that “going to Banner for a pregnancy test, but not the passage of fetal tissue, to be unreasonable and uncredible.” Owens also testified to passing some tissue in July—before filing her paternity lawsuit against Echard—for which she did not seek medical care other than contacting a hotline and a telehealth service. Judge Mata did not find Owens’ explanation convincing. “A reasonable person, if seeking emergency room care to confirm a pregnancy, would not rely on telehealth to confirm the non-viability of the pregnancies.”

Owens tried to convince the world by releasing photos of herself pushing out her belly as evidence of pregnancy. But Owens’ own expert, Dr. Michael Medchill, admitted that a swollen abdomen isn’t proof of pregnancy, and the judge noted in her order that “Dr. Medchill testified that while she appeared pregnant, that alone was not conclusive of pregnancy.”

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Owens' admission to tampering with medical records didn’t sit well with Judge Mata, either. She noted, “[Owens] denies tampering with hCG tests but does admit to altering and fabricating ultrasounds and sonograms. She further testified that she changed the hCG numbers on two of the results. The Court finds little, if any difference, in altering the test itself for which she denies, and altering the results which she did tamper with by her own admission.”

Judge Mata also noted what observers in the courtroom saw as stunning misbehavior by Owens’ attorney, David Gingras. “During Petitioner’s cross-examination, it became profoundly obvious that counsel for the petitioner was attempting to coach her answers. Respondent’s counsel, identifying the issue, moved between counsel and the Petitioner.”

Gingras tried to explain away his behavior on Twitter, claiming that it’s perfectly acceptable to signal to his client on the stand. But the rule he cited specifically stated that is to happen after an objection. PJ Media was in the room, and Gingras never objected while making hand signals like a third-base little league coach at Owens. The entire event is caught on tape. In the example below, you can hear that he never objects and signals to his client multiple times before he tries to cover his tracks and pretends to need something. 


Judge Mata saw it all and described what happened when Owens was blocked from seeing her attorney during her cross-examination. “From that point forward, the Petitioner began to exhibit extreme anxiety and unwillingness to answer questions. The Court had to remind the Petitioner twice that counsel would ask a question and she needed to answer it.” 

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Despite those warnings, Owens tried to get out of the uncomfortable questioning by throwing a tantrum on the stand. Judge Mata noted in her ruling that Owens' outbursts about fairness and refusal to answer questions didn't help her: “The Court attempted to redirect Petitioner to no avail…Petitioner became emotional and asked for a brief recess, which the Court granted.”

Judge Mata’s ruling continued to slap down Owens’ tall tales in a detailed fashion. “The Court finds it is impossible to determine the date of any alleged miscarriage, not because it is impossible, but rather because she failed to seek even a minimal level of care for her high-risk condition. Failure to demonstrate confirmation of ongoing pregnancy is a purposeful way to ensure Respondent would not be able to determine if she was pregnant and if so, for how long the pregnancy lasted.”

On Thursday, Owens penned a wordy essay on Medium complaining about judicial misconduct and alleging that Judge Mata cannot diagnose pregnancy. “Yesterday, the court ruled that a pregnant woman cannot be considered pregnant unless a judge agrees she is. Yes, you read that correctly. Apparently, in a twist of medical and judicial logic, it is now up to the courts — not doctors — to diagnose pregnancy.”

Owens had every opportunity to get her pregnancy confirmed through a legitimate sonogram, a series of hCG tests showing doubling numbers, or a fetal heartbeat Doppler reading, but she chose not to and instead doctored records and got caught. Not only that, but the two paternity tests she took came back with “little to no fetal DNA.” When Owens then took her paternity case to a courtroom, it became the judge’s job to determine if there was a pregnancy and based on the evidence presented, Judge Mata had no choice but to find in favor of Echard. 

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In fact, Arizona has codified into law a burden of paternity that Owens did not meet. As a matter of law, she could not have been found to be pregnant with anyone’s child. ARS 25-814 lays out what it takes to prove paternity, and Owens did not meet any of these standards. The law “provides a man is presumed to be the father of a child if ‘genetic testing affirms at least a ninety-five percent probability of paternity” and “that may only be rebutted by clear and convincing evidence,” wrote Judge Mata. “Based on a lack of confirmed pregnancy and repetitive Ravgen results of ‘little to no fetal DNA’ the Court cannot establish that Petitioner was pregnant…Here, two test results of ‘little to no fetal DNA’ fall woefully short of the 95% required to meet the burden of clear and convincing evidence that Respondent was the father of Petitioner’s alleged pregnancy.”

The ruling got worse and worse for Owens, finding that she “acted unreasonably…without basis or merit.” The judge went on to say that Owens’ actions “at worst, however, [were] fraudulent and made to incite communication, a relationship, or both, with the [Echard].” Judge Mata found that Owens “repetitively failed to comply with Rule 49, even on the Order of this Court,” when she failed to turn over discovery to the defense. Judge Mata ordered Owens to pay Echard’s attorney’s fees because she “provided false testimony as to the viability of the pregnancy in all three cases addressed in the procedural history.”

Judge Mata also noted the threatening letter that Owens sent to Echard that seemed like extortion. “Additionally, prior to her deposition, [Owens] sent a threatening letter to [Echard] indicating her intention to sue him for 1.4 million dollars in collateral allegations unless he agreed to dismiss this action that she initiated.”

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But the most shocking part was the last item on the judge’s order that referred Echard’s accuser for criminal prosecution. “The Court having determined that Laura Owens has a pattern of similar, if not identical behavior, and court involvement, referring this matter to the Maricopa County Attorney’s Office for review of Laura Owens’ actions pursuant to [felony perjury] and [felony evidence tampering]. 

The county attorney, Rachel Mitchell, has also recently decided to pursue the woman who falsely accused former MLB pitcher Trevor Bauer of rape while extorting him for money. Owens, too, accused Echard of rape after months of claiming their encounter was consensual. It will be up to Mitchell whether or not she decides to prosecute Owens. If she does, Maricopa County will quickly lead the nation in attempting to repair order in our courtrooms, where perjury often goes overlooked and underprosecuted. 

PJ Media reached out to Gregg Woodnick, attorney for Echard, for comment on the outcome of the trial. “Ms. Owens may be dealing with criminal ramifications per the court’s referral to the Maricopa County Attorney,” he said. “There were multiple victims harmed by mistruths and fabricated evidence. Those men were courageous to step forward and are all relieved that the truth has been shared.”

When questioned about Gingras’s wild behavior and current allegations against Judge Mata for “judicial misconduct,” Woodnick said, “We are aware of the blogs, Twitter posts, and relentless allegations. My law firm will not engage.” He continued, “To the extent there have been boundaries crossed with witnesses, lawyers, and the court, there are procedures and forums outside of my wheelhouse that I trust will appropriately address the same.”

PJ Media reached out to Gingras for an explanation of what specific “judicial misconduct” he is alleging but received no reply. His blog repeated on-the-ground speculation that Judge Mata’s father was in the public audience that day and may have spoken to Echard’s supporters. PJ Media could not confirm if the speculation was accurate, but it is not judicial misconduct for the parent of a judge to attend his daughter’s open courtroom or have opinions about a public trial that is widely reported, if that even occurred. 

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Gingras has indicated on his blog that he will appeal the ruling. Echard is still under an order of protection that Judge Mata could not set aside. The judge found that her authority was insufficient to set aside another superior court judge’s ruling “despite what appears to be a case of serial fabrications here and elsewhere by [Owens]." According to Judge Mata, Echard’s only relief from the protective order Owens sought and received against him based on fabricated facts was to appeal to a higher court. Unfortunately for Echard, the time limit to appeal the Order of Protection granted to Owens against Echard has expired. 

Despite that small loss, Echard won the day but is still struggling to come to terms with what it all means. Echard told PEOPLE that the ruling in his favor feels strange. “I mean, in a weird way, this has been the last year of my life — and not that I wanted to ever go through this — but it almost became a part of my identity for all the wrong reasons and not what I ever wanted it to be,” he said. “But it's weird to navigate forward now and say, ‘Okay, I'll just put this behind me.’”

Perhaps a criminal prosecution of Owens would help him close that door. “That’s what I wanted more than anything else, because at the end of the day, I don’t want this to happen again.” Owens has left several men in her wake who have suffered huge personal losses because of similar fabrications. Greg Gillespie and Michael Marraccini, who both tangled with Owens in very similar court battles, showed up to support Echard at the trial and testify against their common tormentor. “I mean, I was victim number four that we know of,” Echard told PEOPLE, “and so we felt that especially when somebody commits a crime, they should have to face legal repercussions for doing so.”

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