So nobody else would get hurt

The end of that terrible story:

After O’Leary was linked to Marie’s rape, Lynnwood Police Chief Steven Jensen requested an outside review of how his department had handled the investigation. In a report not previously made public, Sgt. Gregg Rinta, a sex crimes supervisor with the Snohomish County Sheriff’s Office, wrote that what happened was “nothing short of the victim being coerced into admitting that she lied about the rape.”

That Marie recanted wasn’t surprising, Rinta wrote, given the “bullying” and “hounding” she was subjected to. The detectives elevated “minor inconsistencies” — common among victims — into discrepancies, while ignoring strong evidence the crime had occurred. As for threatening jail and a possible withdrawal of housing assistance if Marie failed a polygraph: “These statements are coercive, cruel, and unbelievably unprofessional,” Rinta wrote. “I can’t imagine ANY justification for making these statements.”

Jensen also ordered an internal review, which was similarly damning. Mason’s judgment was unduly swayed by [Marie’s foster mother] Peggy’s phone call. The detectives’ second interview with Marie was “designed to elicit a confession of false reporting.” The false reporting charge arose from a “self-imposed rush.”

Despite the reviews’ tough language, no one in the Lynnwood Police Department was disciplined.

The perp raped five women after Marie was bullied into recanting. Violent rapes; stranger rapes; the stuff of nightmares. He had a knife; he tied them up; he took pictures; he made threats.

In 2008, Marie’s case was one of four labeled unfounded by the Lynnwood police, according to statistics reported to the FBI. In the five years from 2008 to 2012, the department determined that 10 of 47 rapes reported to Lynnwood police were unfounded — 21.3 percent. That’s five times the national average of 4.3 percent for agencies covering similar-sized populations during that same period. Rider said his agency has become more cautious about labeling a case unfounded since Marie. “I would venture to say we investigate our cases a lot more vigorously than many departments do,” he said. “Now, we’re extra careful that we get the right closure on it.”

Better late than never, I guess.

Two and a half years after Marie was branded a liar, Lynnwood police found her, south of Seattle, and told her the news: Her rapist had been arrested in Colorado. They gave her an envelope with information on counseling for rape victims. They said her record would be expunged. And they handed her $500, a refund of her court costs. Marie broke down, experiencing, all at once, shock, relief and anger.

She sued, and Lynnwood settled for $150,000. Not much.

Marie left the state, got a commercial driver’s license and took a job as a long-haul trucker. She married, and in October she and her husband had their second child. She asked that her current location not be disclosed.

Before leaving Washington to restart her life, Marie made an appointment to visit the Lynnwood police station. She went to a conference room and waited. Rittgarn had already left the department, but Mason came in, looking “like a lost little puppy,” Marie says. “He was rubbing his head and literally looked like he was ashamed about what they had done.” He told Marie he was sorry — “deeply sorry,” Marie says. To Marie, he seemed sincere.

Recently, Marie was asked if she had considered not reporting the rape.

“No,” she said. She wanted to be honest. She wanted to remember everything she could. She wanted to help the police.

“So nobody else would get hurt,” she said. “They’d be out there searching for this person who had done this to me.”

Instead five more women got hurt.

Comments are closed.