Authors: Bill Lueders
Terrace Books, a division of the University of Wisconsin Press, takes its name from the Memorial Union Terrace, located at the University of Wisconsin–Madison. Since its inception in 1907, the Wisconsin Union has provided a venue for students, faculty, staff, and alumni to debate art, music, politics, and the issues of the day.
It is a place where theater, music, drama, dance, outdoor activities, and major speakers are made available to the campus and the community.
To learn more about the Union, visit www.union.wisc.edu.
Cr y R ape
T h e Tr u e S t o r y o f
O n e Wo m a n’s Ha r ro w i n g
Q u e s t f o r J u s t i c e
With a new afterword
Te r r a c e B o o k s
A t r a d e i m p r i n t o f t h e U n i v e r s i t y o f W i s c o n s i n P r e s s Terrace Books
A trade imprint of the University of Wisconsin Press 1930 Monroe Street
Madison, Wisconsin 53711
3 Henrietta Street
London WC2E 8LU, England
Copyright © 2006
The Board of Regents of the University of Wisconsin System All rights reserved
Printed in the United States of America A CIP record is available for this title from the Library of Congress ISBN 0-299-21960-7 (cloth: alk. paper)
ISBN 0-299-21964-x (pbk.: alk. paper)
This book is for
and for people everywhere who refuse to let injustice
be the last word.
part one. perfect victim
One on One
Misty and Dominic
part two. the need to be believed
A Story to Tell
Checking It Out
Up against the System
The People’s Lawyer
In Search of the Truth
A Question of Standing
part three. against all odds
The Police Defendants
A Strong Case
“Shocked and Hurt”
Wishing It Were Over
part four. final judgment
For the Defense
“Expect the Worst”
Patty Takes the Stand
Burden of Proof
Truth, like beauty, is in the eye of the beholder. Each person’s perspective can, in ways subtle and profound, alter his or her perception. Different people making earnest attempts to describe the same events may give dramatically different, even incompatible, accounts.
As a journalist who was involved in some of the events this book describes, I understand that my perspective is limited, and biased. And so, in telling this story, I have sought to include the perspective of others.
This book draws on many thousands of pages of primary documents, including detailed police reports and sworn testimony, as well as dozens of interviews.
All representations regarding what any person said or thought come from these sources; no scenes or conversations have been fabricated. Instances where versions are in conflict are noted. All names are real, except two indicated pseudonyms for juveniles, although to protect privacy some characters, including Patty, are referred to by first name only.
While this book is about an injustice perpetrated by the justice system, its purpose is not to vilify the police, prosecutors, or judges who were the agents of this injustice. Indeed, one of the most remarkable aspects of this story is that these individuals did not set out with any ill intent. On the contrary, they were, I believe, committed to doing what they thought was right. That people who possess such tremendous power can be so heedless of their capacity for error should inspire not harsh judgment but humility.
Thanks to Patty, for her courage and decency and willingness to share her often painful story; to all the members of her family, for the support they’ve given her and the kindness they’ve shown me; to attorneys ix
Hal Harlowe and Mike Short, for allowing me access to their files and insights; to the law enforcement officers who produced such thorough reports and revealing testimony; and to the legal reporters who scrupu-lously recorded every word. Thanks to
newspaper, especially Marc Eisen and Vince O’Hern, for giving me the freedom to pursue stories like this. Special thanks to Raphael Kadushin of the University of Wisconsin Press, for his passionate commitment to bringing important books into being; to my capable and conscientious editor, Sheila Moermond; and to copyeditor Diana Cook. I am also indebted to the many people who reviewed the manuscript in progress and made helpful suggestions, including Scott Russell, Bill Christofferson, Kurt Chandler, Phyllis Rose, Jeremy Solomon, Kent Williams, Dean Robbins, Ellen Meany, and Deborah Blum. Finally, and most of all, I thank my wife and best friend, Linda Falkenstein, for seeing me through this project, and through my days of darkest doubt.
p e r f e c t v i c t i m
Patty awoke with a sudden jolt of fear. Someone was in her bed, beside her. In the same sickening instant she inhaled the stench of alcohol—
overwhelming, just inches from her face—and felt the blade of a knife against her cheek.
“Don’t look at me, don’t say anything, and no one will get hurt,” a male voice said softly, almost a whisper. He was pressed against her left side, between her and the bedroom door, as she lay on her stomach.
Patty’s heart pounded. She thought of her daughter Misty across the hallway in the next bedroom, eighteen years old and five months pregnant.
No one will get hurt.
Why did he put it that way? Did he know Misty was there?
“Okay,” Patty responded. She didn’t turn around, didn’t try to look. She wouldn’t have been able to see much anyway. She was mostly blind—legally blind, they called it—possessing only a small amount of peripheral vision, enough to read with special equipment and get around without bumping into things. When Patty was twenty, around the time Misty was born, she developed Stargardt’s disease, an inherited form of macular degeneration. By the time this disease stabilized five years later, her central vision had become a black hole. More than a decade had passed since then, and Patty, true to form, had learned to adapt. Some people could hardly tell.
The man—Patty sensed he was young, almost a boy—moved quickly. In one swift motion, he pressed a pillow over the back of her head and reached over her to shut off the television, still on from the night before. She was still lying face down, not moving, as he raised 3
himself to kneel beside her. He grabbed the elastic at the top of her pants and pulled them down to her ankles. Patty then understood that he had come to rape her.
Patty thought about fighting back, as she had other times in her life.
Once, when she was about sixteen, two guys had picked her up hitch-hiking. They made her sit between them and wouldn’t let her get out, as they sped down the Interstate. Then, too, it was clear what was going to happen. Patty seized the steering wheel and stamped her foot down on the accelerator. The vehicle plunged over a concrete barrier, ripping off its undercarriage. She fled on foot, flagging down an older couple who took her to where she could call police, who arrested the two youths.
Another time, when Patty was in her midtwenties, a stranger walked into the house where she and Misty lived—Patty and Misty’s father divorced before their daughter’s second birthday—and grabbed her.
She mustered her strength and plowed into him, pushing him backward out of her home. The man, who had a history of walking into women’s homes and sexually assaulting them, was still on her front porch, furious, pounding on the door, when police arrived. Now someone was in her bed in the middle of the night, with a knife to her throat, her pregnant daughter a few feet away. She thought about fighting back, but didn’t dare.
“How old is your daughter?” the intruder asked. Patty was startled.
He knew she had a daughter. How did he know this? “She’s just a baby,”
Patty replied. He didn’t let the subject drop. “I bet she’s a good fuck.”
He was drunk. Patty could tell. And she sensed he was high on something, maybe cocaine. He seemed jittery, wired. He crawled up on top of her from behind and tried to insert his penis into her vagina. He had trouble getting it in. She scrunched up her knees to raise her bottom. If she cooperated, she thought, he would be less likely to use his knife. He still couldn’t get it in. She felt him move his penis to her anal area. “Can you take it there?” he asked. His voice sounded funny, like he was trying to disguise it. “Yes,” she answered.
Patty’s head was pressed down on the bed with the pillow shutting out the air around it. Terror gripped her. She imagined him suddenly stabbing her in the back. Half-consciously, she reached around with her left hand and made contact with the knife, which he was holding against her neck; she thought it felt serrated. She didn’t even realize that
when she brushed the blade it cut into the back of her index finger, by the second knuckle, deep. Blood flowed into her pillow when she brought her hand back. He was trying to force his penis into her rectum. After several tries it slid in, and Patty felt a searing pain.
Suddenly Patty’s alarm clock filled the room with an insistent beeping noise, startling both of them. He reached over her to where the alarm clock was resting on the floor and hit the snooze button. Patty had set the alarm for 4 a.m., so she would have time to stop by the gym before work. But she kept the clock twenty minutes fast, so it was really 3:40 a.m. Later this would become a point of contention, one of the reasons that the police turned against her.
“Turn around,” he ordered, and Patty did. In the process, the pillow slipped off her face. “I told you not to look at me,” he snapped. Patty closed her eyes and began to cry. “I can’t even see,” she told him.
His reply was so quiet it seemed almost tender. “I know,” he said.
Patty’s fears were confirmed. This was someone who knew her, or at least knew things about her. This made her more afraid. If she could identify him, he was more likely to kill her.
The man continued to throw commands at her, and she complied.
He spoke so softly that, several times, she had to ask him to repeat himself. Maybe he knew Misty was in the apartment and was trying not to wake her. He needn’t have bothered: Misty was as sound a sleeper as anyone Patty had ever known. Aerosmith could be giving a concert in their living room and Misty would sleep right though it.
Misty, like many teenagers, was the center of her own universe.
She was pretty and vain and made what her mother thought were huge errors of judgment, but they were
judgment. During Misty’s last years of high school, she had dated a drug dealer named Leonard, whom Patty disliked intensely. A few months earlier, about the same time Misty realized she was pregnant with his child, Leonard, then thirty-two, got into a spat with a young woman who shared his apartment. He dragged her out of bed, accusing her of stealing some of his drugs and a carton of cigarettes. He beat her bare buttocks with various objects, including a curtain rod. Then he shoved a 9-millimeter Be-retta pistol up her rectum and threatened to pull the trigger. Leonard eventually calmed down and apologized for his bad behavior, insisting that the woman smoke some crack with him before he left. In the end, 6
this misunderstanding with his roommate drew a twelve-year prison sentence.
Misty’s next suitor was a young man named Lonnie, whom Patty had liked. But the relationship didn’t last long. Now Misty was dating a twenty-six-year-old man named Dominic; the two of them worked for a cleaning service owned by Dominic’s mother, then in jail on a probation violation. Dominic had previously courted Patty’s younger sister Brenda. This relationship had ended badly, and when Brenda learned that Dominic was dating her niece, she was furious.
“I want to see your boobies,” the intruder announced, as he grabbed Patty’s shirt with his right hand, and began pulling it off. She helped him remove it. Now Patty was kneeling on the bed, facing him, eyes closed. His hand seized her long, braided, dark hair, which was pinned up in a bun with barrettes. He yanked hard, pulling her head toward his crotch. “Suck my dick,” he demanded, lying back on the bed.
Patty did as she was told. It wasn’t as though she didn’t know how.
The first time she was only five or six years old. The man was her stepfather. This went on until she was in her teens, when she told a friend and authorities intervened. She had revealed only some of what happened, about how he had touched her. She was placed for a brief while in a shelter home. He was never charged. When she returned home, the molestation stopped. No one ever talked about it, even years later, after Patty’s mother and stepfather split up. Not a single conversation, ever. It was how her family dealt with problems, by burying them under moun-tains of denial. Patty even had occasional incidental contact with her former stepfather, without any of this past history coming up.
Having been forced into sex as a child, Patty didn’t see much reason to practice abstinence as a teen. She was just thirteen when she got pregnant—the father, her boyfriend, was just a few months older—and fourteen when she gave birth to a daughter. Patty’s mother already had ten kids—five from Patty’s father, who left when Patty was five years old, and five from her second husband. Patty’s daughter made eleven.
When the girl became old enough to understand how “Mama Patty” fit into her life, she became resentful. Patty wore the pain of this experience, like others in her life, plainly on her face, in lines and marks that conveyed anxiety and consternation. Her long, flowing hair was like a shield to deflect attention from her obvious hurt.
Patty, at thirty-eight, was solid and strong from years of hard work.
Her face, though weathered, was still pretty, especially when she smiled.
There was a genuineness about her that other people tended to notice and like. Even though her eyes did not meet theirs, because of her disability, her face was like a porthole to her heart, reflecting what she felt: dread, sadness, sometimes joy. Perhaps because she could no longer see the faces of others, she lost the ability to hide her feelings behind her own face.
“Tell me how big I am,” the man instructed. “You’re big. You’re really big,” she replied, though in truth he wasn’t. Patty could no longer feel the knife on her neck and wondered if he had set it down. She thought she might have a chance to push him away and make a run for it. But her pants were bunched around her ankles, holding her legs together. Usually, Patty got undressed before going to bed. But the night before she had fallen asleep around 7 p.m., exhausted, still wearing her black stretch-cotton pants and her purple shirt.
Patty had gotten home about two hours earlier from a long meeting with a financial counselor named Connie Kilmark and two representatives from Business Enterprise, a state-run program that provided jobs to the blind. Patty had two business franchises. She ran a coffee shop in the State Department of Agriculture Building, for which she had to hire assistants, meet a payroll, order supplies, pay bills, and wait on customers. She also refilled vending machines at a rest stop on the Interstate, about twenty-five miles from Patty’s home in Madison, Wisconsin.
Patty had fallen behind in her monthly payments and reporting require-ments, so the program tapped Kilmark to help straighten things out.
Kilmark had spoken warmly to Patty and expressed confidence in her.
But the Business Enterprise reps, Patty perceived, were frustrated with her and mainly concerned about getting the money she owed. When Patty returned home, she said a few words to Misty and retired to her bedroom, opening the locked door. This door was always locked when Patty was not home; she kept money from her businesses in there, and she didn’t want Misty or her friends to have access. Patty turned on the TV and slipped into a familiar depression.
Once, when Patty was a teenager, she tried to commit suicide by cutting her wrists; another time she drank rat poison. Twice, in her twenties, she overdosed on pills and ended up in the hospital. One of 8
Patty’s brothers took his own life, and so did his son. But it had been more than a decade since Patty’s last suicide attempt. Often, she used alcohol to make herself feel better, as did almost everyone she knew.
She had been on Prozac until just recently, when her prescription ran out, and had seen a psychologist until earlier that year. She was doing pretty well, all things considered, but the meeting that afternoon had pushed all of her buttons; she felt humiliated, inadequate. Patty resolved to get up early the next morning and get to the gym, hoping a good workout would improve her spirits. With the TV still on, she got into bed and under the covers. Around 8 p.m., Misty popped in to ask a question about some hair-care product. Patty was already asleep, rous-ing herself only enough to say she wanted to stay that way. “Bitch,”
And now the stretch-cotton pants Patty had fallen asleep wearing were serving as makeshift shackles. She reached down and pulled the bunched-up material over one foot and then the other. Her assailant had been still, almost as though he were dozing. This brought him back with a jolt: “What are you doing?” He sounded angry. “Nothing,” she replied.
“My foot was caught.” The knife was once again against her neck.
By this time, Patty was starting to think more clearly about what was happening and what she needed to do. The sooner he climaxed, the sooner it would be over. She moved her tongue around the tip of his penis and caressed his testicles. It was a strategic move that would later cause her embarrassment and be used against her, publicly. Worst of all, it didn’t work. He moaned appreciatively, but did not finish.