Sandy Ebersohl's twenty-year trail of deceit and fabrication
Sandy Ebersohl has a way with men.
By all accounts, the 48-year-old Colorado Springs woman has been quick to attract them, both in person and on Internet dating sites. But over the past twenty years, Ebersohl has also turned many of their lives into hell on earth.
Westword recently obtained more than two decades' worth of police reports, court documents and copies of restraining orders that show that Ebersohl has a history of fabricating information. The documents reveal a pattern: Ebersohl starts dating a man, and when the man tries to break up with her, she starts harassing him. Or, worse, she calls the police to report that he is harassing her, or that he hit her, broke into her house or stole her car. Her claims are almost always unfounded, the documents show.
According to records from the Colorado Bureau of Investigation, she has been arrested at least ten times in Denver, Aurora and Colorado Springs for violating restraining orders, harassment, stalking, and damaging property. In 1993 she pleaded guilty to causing a disturbance by phone. In 1994 she pleaded guilty to harassment. In 1997 she pleaded guilty to harassing communication. In 2000 she pleaded guilty to disorderly conduct. And in 2005 she pleaded guilty to false reporting. She has been involved in more than a dozen restraining-order cases, either as the person seeking protection or the person from whom protection is being sought.
One of the men she was involved with, Louis Hampers, had problems of his own. In 2010, Westword ran a cover story about the former head of emergency medicine at Children's Hospital in Aurora. And while the criminal charges he faced, for prescription-drug fraud, and the loss of his career were his own doing, getting mixed up with Ebersohl probably didn't help.
Ebersohl, who had dated Hampers, was a source for that story, but it now appears that she may have fabricated much of the information she gave to Westword, the police and other people involved in that situation. (For that reason, the original article has been removed from Westword's online archives -- although stories about Hampers that relied entirely on other, undisputed sources remain online.)
Neither Ebersohl nor Hampers spoke to us for this story. But in an attempt to shed some light on whether Ebersohl was telling the truth, we examined her history and spoke to some of the men she dated. They warned us that with Ebersohl, the truth is hard to come by.
"I wouldn't believe anything she says," says one man.
Another of her exes agrees. "She's a devious, diabolical woman," he says.
The records obtained by Westword show that between 1992 and 2013, Ebersohl had police involvement with at least fourteen different men. Many are described in police reports as her ex-boyfriends or, later, as lovers she met through online dating sites. And most of the reports detail harassment they suffered after breaking up with her.
The reports start in 1993, when Ebersohl (then known as Sandra Sward; Ebersohl is a married name, though records indicate that she is now divorced) met a married Denver police officer while he was working off-duty providing security at a Denver Nuggets game. According to police reports, the officer said that he and Ebersohl had a "one-night sexual encounter." (We are not naming the officer or any of the other men Ebersohl has been involved with.)
After their encounter, the officer claimed that Ebersohl stalked him by following him to bars and calling him hundreds of times. She even began to call his wife, and once followed him and his family to Elitch Gardens. In December 1993, the officer filed a restraining order against Ebersohl, but that didn't stop her from contacting him. Once, in February 1994, the officer called the Aurora police to report that Ebersohl had followed him to an alley behind a 7-Eleven, where he'd parked to change his clothes after work, and had gotten inside his car.
Although the officer later told the Aurora police that he "had [her] arrested twice" for violating the restraining order, he said the charges were dropped by the district attorney.
Denver court records show that Ebersohl did plead guilty to harassment in 1994, however. There are no details about the charge (the court says the files have since been destroyed), but the existing record says she's not to have any contact with the Denver officer.
Records also show that she pleaded guilty in 1993 to "disturbance by use of phone" — though there are no details about that charge, either.
The first instance in which Ebersohl may have made a false accusation — against a different man — happened in June 1994, when she reported to Aurora police that a burglar had taken an eighteen-speed bike, a black camcorder, a shirt and $100 in cash from her apartment. When the police asked who might have robbed her, she pointed the finger at an ex-boyfriend. Her reasoning? She said she'd found a butter knife near the patio door, where it appeared the burglar had broken in, and that her ex-boyfriend had once used a butter knife to pry open that same door when she'd accidentally locked her keys in the apartment.
While court records don't indicate that the ex-boyfriend was ever charged with burglary, they do show that he'd taken out a restraining order against Ebersohl the month before.
But much of Ebersohl's early police history involves telephone harassment. In December 1996, a man and his girlfriend called the Aurora police to report that Ebersohl, who was the man's ex-girlfriend, was calling repeatedly and demanding to speak to him. In addition, the man's new girlfriend told police that she was receiving dozens of calls from people who claimed they had been paged from her number — a phenomenon that an officer witnessed while taking the girlfriend's report. The girlfriend "started receiving so many calls that she took the phone off the hook," the officer's report says. "After 5-10 minutes, she would hang it up, and almost instantly, she would get a phone call from someone returning a page."
When the police finally spoke with Ebersohl, she said she was trying to get ahold of her ex-boyfriend because she was pregnant with his child — a claim that the police did not investigate. The police report notes that Ebersohl was told to stop calling him, and court records indicate that he filed a restraining order against her in late December 1996. In January 1997, records show, Ebersohl was arrested for harassing communication, to which she pleaded guilty.
Three years later, Ebersohl appears to have done a similar thing to another man and his wife. In February 2000, the wife called the Aurora police to report that Ebersohl had been harassing her by phone for months, despite the fact that the woman had taken out a restraining order against her in December 1999. The police report indicates that the woman's husband knew Ebersohl through the military and that the two of them had been the subjects of a military sexual-harassment investigation. Ebersohl was a medical-laboratory specialist in the Army Reserve from 1989 to 2003, according to the Army Human Resources Command.
Ebersohl was charged with violating the woman's restraining order and with disorderly conduct. Records show that the first charge was dropped and that Ebersohl pleaded guilty to the second. She was sentenced to thirty days in jail, but the sentence was suspended.
One of the most bizarre episodes in Ebersohl's police history also involved phone harassment. In September 2000, according to a police report, Ebersohl was fired from her job as a financial analyst at the Kaiser Permanente administrative offices in Aurora because she refused to cooperate with an internal investigation into strange phone calls that she and her co-workers had been receiving for months. The calls were most often from doctors who were returning pages that Ebersohl and her co-workers claimed they never sent. Some of her co-workers got up to 25 such calls a day, and one continued to get calls at home in the evenings.
At first, Kaiser's in-house security manager pinned the scam on another employee, who was fired and then charged by the police with harassment. But when the calls continued after he was gone, the security manager set up a video camera in the area where Ebersohl and her colleagues worked. The camera caught Ebersohl walking into the mail room and then returning to watch her co-workers' desks "with anticipation," according to the police report. Soon thereafter, those co-workers started getting calls from doctors returning pages. Phone records revealed that the pages had originated from the mail-room phone.
When Ebersohl realized she was going to be fired, the report says, she admitted that she'd paged the doctors from the mail room. But she claimed that she'd been forced to do it by the employee who'd first been suspected of the scam.
"While dealing with her, [the security manager] found Sandy continually lied," the police report says. "She would give a bit of truth and weave a lie out of it."
It doesn't appear from court records that Ebersohl was ever charged with a crime in connection with the Kaiser phone harassment.
In 2001 and 2002, the Aurora police did three lengthy investigations of Ebersohl that began to piece together her pattern of harassment. The first started in July 2001, when Ebersohl called the cops to accuse a man she met online of assaulting her. Judging by the police report, it appears that the police initially believed Ebersohl. But when the officer assigned to the case ran a standard background check on both her and the suspect, his report says, he became "somewhat concerned over the number of contacts the victim had had with the police" and the types of contacts, including arrests for harassment, stalking and obstruction of justice.
In the middle of the investigation, Ebersohl made another bizarre claim — that she was pregnant by a different man, this one a Denver police officer (not the same officer she'd been involved with in 1993). Strangely, another Aurora police officer had gotten a call from that same Denver officer a week earlier, chastising him for writing Ebersohl a speeding ticket.
Though it appeared that the Denver officer had tried to get Ebersohl out of her ticket, the Aurora officer's report notes that the relationship between the two ended badly. According to the report, Ebersohl and the Denver officer got into "several arguments over the alleged pregnancy," and she ended up filing an Internal Affairs complaint against him.
Meanwhile, Ebersohl took out a restraining order against the man she'd met online and then told Aurora police that he'd violated that order by leaving her phone messages. The man denied having done so, however, and his phone records backed up his story. The police report indicates that because of Ebersohl's credibility issues and past arrests, the Arapahoe County District Attorney's Office declined to prosecute the man Ebersohl met online for any crime.
The next big investigation began in February 2002, when Ebersohl called the Aurora police to report that a man she'd met on the erotic website adultfriendfinder.com had violated a restraining order she'd filed against him by sending her threatening messages in a chat room.
When the police contacted the man, however, they heard a different story. The man confirmed that he and Ebersohl had met online and had gone on a few dates but said he'd quickly realized that she "had some mental problems," the police report says, and tried to break it off with her. However, Ebersohl kept showing up at his door and saying she wanted to talk. One night, she invited herself in, and when he threatened to call the police, she grabbed his cell phone. The two of them got into a physical altercation, and Ebersohl ended up calling the cops. When the police arrived, the man was arrested for assault and spent the night in jail.
Ebersohl took out a restraining order against him and then reported that he'd violated it by contacting her online and by phone, telling her that he would "shut her up once and for all" with an M40 rifle and asking her not to show up for the court hearing related to the assault.
But Ebersohl failed to produce any evidence of the alleged threatening statements, and when the officer investigating her claims pressed her about the differences between her version of events and the man's version, she began "to confuse her own stories." Given her history, the officer declined to press charges against the man for violating the restraining order.
In September 2002, the Aurora police launched another complicated investigation involving Ebersohl. This one centered around Ebersohl's then-neighbor, who is listed in the police report as a former Bloods gang member. The neighbor told the police that someone was throwing rocks at his house and breaking his windows — and that he suspected Ebersohl's ex-boyfriend because Ebersohl told him she'd seen her ex's vehicle driving by the house. The neighbor even filed a restraining order against the ex-boyfriend, whom he'd never met, because Ebersohl pressured him to do so, according to the police report.
But eventually the neighbor began to suspect that it was Ebersohl, not her ex-boyfriend, who was throwing the rocks. He told police that he dated her for two weeks, and after he broke up with her, she told him that she was pregnant with his baby and demanded that he help pay for an abortion. Other strange things started happening, too: According to the police report, the neighbor reported that he'd often come home to find his outside faucet running and his fence knocked over. Once, he found "I love you," "69" and "XOXOX" written in lipstick on his car windows. Ebersohl also left him harassing phone messages, telling him he needed to "start showing some caring for me and your child" and demanding he repay her money she'd loaned him for cigarettes and other minor things. Eventually, the police report says, the neighbor was forced to move, change his schedule and disconnect his cell phone in order to get away from her.
As for Ebersohl's ex-boyfriend, the police found that he had alibis for several of the times when the rock-throwing occurred. He also had a restraining order against Ebersohl. His restraining-order application, which Westword obtained, alleges that he and Ebersohl "dated briefly" and that she threatened to "ruin his life" and "take her life." After he filed the restraining order, Ebersohl called the police to report that someone had broken into her home and had thrown her clothes all over her bedroom floor. She told the police she suspected her ex-boyfriend.
At the end of the investigation, the police came to believe that Ebersohl was using her neighbor to retaliate against her ex-boyfriend. And when her neighbor stopped cooperating, she began to harass him, too. In October 2002, the police report indicates, Ebersohl was arrested for breaking her neighbor's car mirror and window and hitting him with a rock. During the arrest, the report adds, Ebersohl "appeared to fake having a seizure."
In the end, however, the Aurora City Attorney's Office declined to prosecute her. The police report notes that the office indicated that it "would be unable to deal with" Ebersohl. The Arapahoe County DA also refused to accept the case because "it was unlikely that the facts of the case could be proved beyond a reasonable doubt," according to the police report.
In 2005, Ebersohl pleaded guilty to one count of false reporting, though the records obtained by Westword don't indicate why. However, they do reveal that Ebersohl continued to meet men online and then, when things went sour, involve the police.
In 2009, she had a brief affair with a married man whom she'd met through the swinger community. But when he told her that he didn't want to see her anymore, she continued to contact him, documents indicate. In March, the man called the Lone Tree Police Department to report that Ebersohl was harassing him by phone. That same day, Ebersohl called the Aurora police to report that the man was harassing her.
The man sought a restraining order against Ebersohl, which was made permanent at a June 2009 hearing. According to a transcript of the hearing, Ebersohl had called the man to say that he and his wife should be tested for STDs. She had also posted the man's home phone number on a website along with a message saying his wife "was interested in having sex with strange men." The judge in the case said that the wife received eight calls as a result and added, "The worst part of this case is what you did to his wife as revenge."
Later that same year, the Aurora police got a call from a different man, who said he was "being set up by a person who has a restraining order against him." He told the police that he'd met Ebersohl on the website findadate.com but wasn't interested in dating her. After he told her that, Ebersohl took out a restraining order against him and then called the police to report that he was violating it. The man also claimed that she'd loaned him her car and then reported it stolen.
According to a police report, Ebersohl showed an officer her caller ID, which revealed that the man had called her fifteen times, in violation of the restraining order. The man, however, claimed that wasn't true. He said he only called her once — and that was because he'd received a text message from a strange number telling him to call a different number that turned out to be Ebersohl's home phone. The man said he owed money to several businesses and thought the text was from a bill collector. When he realized it wasn't, he said, he hung up.
The man's phone records proved he was telling the truth, the police report says, and he wasn't charged with violating the restraining order. Ebersohl wasn't charged with anything, either.
But perhaps she should have been. In investigating how Ebersohl made it appear that the man had called her, the police spoke with Ebersohl's mother. (Westword also contacted Ebersohl's mother but did not get a response.) According to the police report, her mother said that Ebersohl "knew of a way on the Internet to make it look like a different number [is] calling someone [other] than the actual number." She also said that her daughter has a pattern, one that the officer summarized in his report: "When she is dating a man or wants to date a man and he rejects her, Sandy goes off the deep end. She does not handle rejection well."
That pattern appears to have continued in 2010, when Ebersohl met another man on adultfriendfinder.com. According to documents obtained by Westword, the man had an on-again, off-again relationship with Ebersohl for a while. Every time he would try to end it, he said, she would threaten to report him for some sort of false violation.
Their relationship finally ended in late 2011, when Ebersohl called the Douglas County Sheriff's Office to report that the man had assaulted her. When the officers arrived, Ebersohl was nowhere to be found. The police tried to talk to the man about the assault, but he became combative, shouting, "Nothing happened!" and pushing an officer who touched him. The man was arrested for assault, domestic violence, resisting arrest and obstructing a police officer.
When the police contacted Ebersohl, she told them that she'd gone to the man's apartment to retrieve her dog. She said the man became angry when she accused him of stealing her medication, and he proceeded to punch her and slam her head into a concrete step. However, when the officer asked to meet with her, Ebersohl refused. She said she had to go to an urgent-care clinic but wouldn't tell him which one.
The man ended up pleading guilty to assault in exchange for the district attorney agreeing to drop the charges of resisting arrest and obstructing a police officer. But according to documents obtained by Westword, he claimed that Ebersohl's version of events wasn't true. He said that she came over that evening to pick up her belongings because he told her that he didn't want to see her anymore. While she was at his house, he said, she left the door open and his dog escaped. The man said that he ran after the dog and that when he returned, the police were there. One of them accused him of being "a woman beater" in front of his kids, which he said caused him to lash out at the officers. But he insisted that he never laid a hand on Ebersohl.
"(He) said that when someone like Ms. Ebersohl comes into your life, it can turn that life into a living hell," says a summary of an interview with the man obtained by Westword. "He compared Ms. Ebersohl to the character Glenn Close played in the movie Fatal Attraction."
Westword spoke with two of the men who have had relationships with Ebersohl. They asked that we keep their names out of this story for fear that Ebersohl would retaliate against them.
"She's somewhere between crazy and evil," one of the men says. "Maybe both."
Both say that at first, Ebersohl gave them what they wanted — which included sex. Outside of the bedroom, Ebersohl has a keen sense for how to make herself helpful, one says; she's quick to perceive what a person needs and then do her best to provide it.
But the men say that the more they got to know her, the more they realized she was trouble. It became clear that she was very litigious, they say; in fact, court records show that Ebersohl has taken several men to small-claims court over allegations that they owed her money for damage to her property or for possessions such as books and clothing that she says they failed to return to her. In some instances, police reports reveal that the men had actually dropped the items off at a police station for Ebersohl to pick up but she never followed through.
She is also currently embroiled in a civil lawsuit against the Arapahoe County Department of Human Services. Ebersohl, who records indicate has two children, has claimed that a doctor falsely diagnosed her with factitious disorder by proxy, a mental disorder in which a person fabricates symptoms of illness in someone under their care. Furthermore, she argues that social workers wrongly used that diagnosis to remove her daughter from her home.
A jury trial is set to begin in September.
The men say it also became clear that Ebersohl had had a string of problematic relationships and that it was sometimes difficult to separate her fact from her fiction.
"She was good at making stuff up," one man says. "She did intertwine little truths in all those big lies that would make you sort of believe and feel sorry for her." He says she used that sympathy to get him to do several substantial favors for her that he now regrets. "I fell prey to it," he adds. "I was manipulated by her."
As for Hampers, the Children's Hospital doctor, he also fell prey to Ebersohl, but at the same time that he was dealing with problems of his own.
In 2010, Hampers was arrested and charged with using five aliases and eight fake patient names to fraudulently obtain drugs such as generic Vicodin, Valium and Ambien 654 times at pharmacies in Denver and Aurora. In July 2011, he pleaded guilty to fourteen of the charges and was sentenced the next year to five years of supervised probation and a $30,000 fine.
The same year he was arrested, Hampers was involved in court proceedings regarding restraining orders filed by women he'd dated, including Ebersohl and former 9News reporter Deborah Sherman. (Hampers also filed for a restraining order against Ebersohl.) In addition, Sherman filed a civil lawsuit against Hampers, alleging that he threatened and harassed her after she broke a second date with him. That lawsuit has since been settled.
Ebersohl had met Hampers the same way she met many men: on an erotic website. When we spoke in 2010, she provided Westword with e-mails that were purportedly from him. In one, he appeared to be making reference to some naked photos he'd posted online, telling her that she was the reason the photos existed.
But a re-examination of those e-mails shows that the address from which the messages were sent may not have belonged to Hampers. It differs by a single character — an additional "1" — from the e-mail address that Hampers used for all other communication.
Ebersohl told us that her relationship with Hampers was up and down. Things would be good for a while, she said, but then he'd start acting erratically. For instance, she said that Hampers once stole her seizure medication and refused to give it back. Her assertion was backed up by a police report she'd made about the incident. But the police ended up dropping the case, and no charges were ever filed against Hampers.
In addition, Ebersohl said that Hampers called and e-mailed her incessantly. That allegation was consistent with behavior that Sherman had reported, which was backed up by documents and voice-mail recordings that were part of court records. But Ebersohl took her claims against Hampers a step further, telling us that someone had broken her car windshield and left a note that said, "Sandy, are you going to do what I say? Lou."
That incident was mentioned in an e-mail provided to Westword in 2010. The e-mail is purportedly between Hampers and his lawyer. In it, Hampers writes that he suspects Sherman broke Ebersohl's window and left the note. He also says he thinks Sherman is behind the hundreds of hang-up calls that he and Ebersohl were receiving at the time — behavior that, in retrospect, seems to fit with Ebersohl's history of telephone harassment.
Ebersohl may have also escalated Hampers's situation with Sherman when she told him that she'd gotten a call from a reporter at 9News asking about him and the Scarlet Ranch, a swingers' club that they'd visited together. (Ebersohl told Westword the same thing.) Hampers became convinced that Sherman was behind the call and was reporting a story about how he, a prominent children's physician, was a swinger. He left Sherman a series of voice-mail messages warning her that if she bothered Ebersohl or talked "about anything [Ebersohl] and I have done," she would be "facing a shit-storm." He also called 9News and left a message with the station accusing Sherman of trying to "settle a score" with him by calling Ebersohl.
Sherman denied having called Ebersohl, or anyone else, to ask about Hampers. In fact, Sherman wanted nothing to do with Hampers, as evidenced by the restraining order she sought against him. It was granted in April 2010.
Ebersohl didn't return multiple phone calls or a letter sent to her home asking her to comment for this story. Given that, her record will have to speak for itself.
Get the This Week's Top Stories Newsletter
Every week we collect the latest news, music and arts stories — along with film and food reviews and the best things to do this week — so that you’ll never miss Westword's biggest stories.