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Police Bully Teen into Dropping Rape Charge, Rapist Sexually Assaults Another Woman

The woman's story was proven true after the rapist was arrested for sexually assaulting another woman.
 
 
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When D.M., the initials of a young Washington woman, said she was raped in 2008, the police didn’t believe her. Now, she’s suing the city of Lynwood, Washington, its police chief and a youth shelter because the man who raped her is in prison after sexually assaulting another woman in Colorado and admitting to the rape of the Washington woman. D.M. is suing for civil rights violations, defamation and negligence, according to a report in the Courthouse News Service.

It was August 2008 when D.M. was raped by a man named Mark Patrick O’Leary. O’Leary raped her when D.M. was staying in Coons House, a federally funded shelter that helps teens out of foster care. O’Leary “threatened plaintiff DM with a butcher knife, bound her wrists with a shoestring he had removed from her shoes, stuffed a pair of underwear in her mouth as a gag, blindfolded her, and took photographs of her,” the lawsuit states.

After the assault, D.M. went to the police. But they told D.M. she “made up the story” and pressured her to go back on her initial rape complaint. D.M. says she relented after the bullying by detectives and signed a confession--only to have the police press charges against her for filing a false police report. Those charges were eventually dropped.

The police from Lynwood began to doubt her story after three other people said she made up the story, though they were not in a position to know.

The shelter where D.M. was raped at was told that she was pressured into recanting. But the shelter didn’t help her get a lawyer and threatened to kick D.M. out if she went back on her recantation of the rape charge. That’s why she’s also suing Coons House.

D.M.’s story was vindicated in February 2011, when the rapist, O’Leary, was arrested for sexual assault. He eventually pled guilty to raping D.M.

The lawsuit says that “the conviction of defendant Marc O'Leary on June 6, 2012 demonstrated that defendants Sgt. Mason and Det. Ritgarn had no probable cause to initiate a criminal proceeding against plaintiff in August 2008, for filing a false police report because she had in fact told the truth when she reported to the Lynnwood Police Department that she had been raped on August 11, 2008.”

 

Alex Kane is AlterNet's New York-based World editor, and an assistant editor for Mondoweiss. Follow him on Twitter @alexbkane.

 
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