After Marie reported being raped, she faced doubt, scorn — and criminal charges. Her story sheds light on problems with how rape cases are investigated and how rape survivors are treated.
After an 18-year-old Lynnwood woman was raped seven years ago, she reported it to the police, only to recant later. She faced doubt, scorn — and criminal charges. Her story, as told by The Marshall Project and ProPublica, sheds light on the problems with how rape cases are investigated and how rape survivors are treated:
No one came to court with her that day, except her public defender.
She was 18 years old, charged with a gross misdemeanor, punishable by up to a year in jail.
Rarely do misdemeanors draw notice. Her case was one of 4,859 filed in 2008 in Lynnwood Municipal Court, a place where the judge says the goal is “to correct behavior — to make Lynnwood a better, safer, healthier place to live, work, shop and visit.”
But her misdemeanor had made the news, and made her an object of curiosity or, worse, scorn. It had cost her the newfound independence she was savoring after a life in foster homes. It had cost her sense of worth. Each ring of the phone seemed to announce another friendship, lost. A friend from 10th grade called to ask: How could you lie about something like that? Marie — that’s her middle name, Marie — didn’t say anything. She just listened, then hung up. Even her foster parents now doubted her. She doubted herself, wondering if there was something in her that needed to be fixed.
She had reported being raped in her apartment by a man who had bound and gagged her. Then, confronted by police with inconsistencies in her story, she had conceded it might have been a dream. Then she admitted making the story up. One TV newscast announced, “A Western Washington woman has confessed that she cried wolf when it came to her rape she reported earlier this week.” She had been charged with filing a false report, which is why she was here today, to accept or turn down a plea deal.
More coverage in The Seattle Times:
- August 2008: Lynnwood police investigate rape of woman in her apartment
- September 2011: Colorado man charged in local 2008 rapes
- December 2011: Suspect in local rapes sentenced to life in Colorado
- June 2013: Woman sues after Lynnwood police didn’t believe she was raped
- June 2013: Op-ed: Lynnwood police’s callous treatment of rape victim
- January 2014: Lynnwood to pay rape victim $150,000 in false-claim suit