Police Told Rape Victim She Was Faking It
SEATTLE (CN) - Police told a teenage rape victim she "made up the story," and let the man go to rape more women before he was caught, the teen claims in court.
D.M. sued now-imprisoned rapist Mark Patrick O'Leary; the City of Lynnwood; its police chief, two officers and public defense attorney; Cocoon House, a federally funded youth shelter; and two of its managers, in Federal Court.
Despite physical evidence that O'Leary had raped her, Lynnwood police detectives told D.M. she had "made up the story" and pressured her to recant, she says in the complaint.
Detectives "continued to bully" her until she involuntarily signed a confession - then they charged her with filing a false police report, she says.
Three years later, after being arrested for sexually assaulting a woman in Colorado, O'Leary confessed to raping D.M. and another woman in Kirkland, Wash. He "was sentenced for those crimes in Snohomish County, Washington, Superior Court on June 6, 2012," according to the complaint.
D.M. claims O'Leary raped her on Aug. 11, 2008, when she was 18 and was staying in Cocoon House, which help teens make the transition from foster care.
"During the course of the assault, defendant 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," D.M. says in the complaint.
After the assault, D.M. freed herself and called a neighbor and her Cocoon House case manager, defendant Wayne Nash, for help.
When police arrived, the officers "made evidentiary observations and identified and took possession of the physical evidence that supported DM's story," the complaint states. Police took photos of red marks on her wrists, took the shoestring used to tie her up, the underwear used as a gag, a butcher knife and other evidence. She was taken to an emergency room, where a doctor documented more evidence, including abrasions on her wrists and vagina.
But D.M. says police didn't believe her.
"Sometime between August 11 and August 14, 2008, Defendant Sgt. [Jeff A.] Mason spoke with three people who doubted that plaintiff DM had been raped and thought that she had made up the story," the complaint states. "One was an anonymous caller. Another was plaintiff DM's foster mother, Peggy F. Cunningham. Cunningham and DM had been having a 'family quarrel' in the days before DM was raped by defendant O'Leary. Another person was Jordan Schweitzer, a friend with whom DM had a phone conversation on the night she was raped.
"None of these individuals claimed that they were with DM at the time she was raped, or that they had any personal knowledge of what DM was doing at the time she claimed that she was raped. Their opinions had no factual basis. They were based solely on speculation and conjecture."
Detectives told her she "made up the story."
"Defendant Sgt. Mason and Defendant Det. [Jerry] Ritgarn ceased searching for the rapist after defendant Sgt. Mason spoke with Cunningham and Schweitzer. The police officers believed Cunningham's and Schweitzer's unfounded speculations that plaintiff DM had not been raped, but had made up the story," according to the complaint.
The detectives claimed there were "inconsistencies" in D.M.'s account and took her to the police station on Aug. 14 to interrogate her. They did not read D.M. her Miranda rights or advise her against self-incrimination, the complaint state
"Defendant Det. Ritgarn put words in plaintiff DM's mouth to extract an involuntary confession from her that she had made up the story," she says in the complaint.
Then they used the coerced confession to prosecute her for filing a false police report, D.M. says.
D.M. says she told Cocoon House officials that she was forced to sign the confession, but they wouldn't help her get a lawyer, and threatened to kick her out if she tried to rescind her coerced confession.
"After plaintiff DM and the Cocoon House Director defendants [Jana] Hamilton and Cocoon House case manager Nash left the Lynnwood Police Station on August 18, 2008 defendant Hamilton called an emergency meeting at Cocoon House for all of the participants in Project Ladder. At the meeting Cocoon House forced plaintiff DM to state to all the participants that she had lied about being raped, that the rape never happened, and that she had filed a false report of rape. DM was put on a strict case plan and it was mandatory that DM contact [nonparty] Ken Urie, the mental health counselor," according to the complaint.
Cocoon House provides residential and case management services for Project Ladder, on a contract with the state and Snohomish County.
Charges for filing a false police report were dismissed after she completed a pre-trial diversion agreement in 2010.
Then in February 2011, O'Leary was arrested in Lakewood, Colo., for sexual assault. After his arrest, D.M.'s criminal record for the false report was deleted and she was refunded her $500 bail in the case.
"On June 6, 2012 defendant Marc O'Leary appeared in Snohomish County Superior Court and pled guilty to the rape of DM on August 11, 2008 and to the rape another woman in Kirkland, Washington," the complaint states.
"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," the complaint states.
D.M. seeks punitive damages for civil rights violations, defamation and negligence. She is represented by H. Richmond Fisher.