On August 11, 2008, eighteen-year-old Marie reported that a masked man broke into her apartment near Seattle, Washington, and raped her. Within days police and even those closest to Marie became suspicious of her story. The police swiftly pivoted and began investigating Marie. Confronted with inconsistencies in her story and the doubts of others, Marie broke down and said her story was a lie--a bid for attention. Police charged Marie with false reporting, and she was branded a liar. More than two years later, Colorado detective Stacy Galbraith was assigned to investigate a case of sexual assault. Describing the crime to her husband that night, Galbraith learned that the case bore an eerie resemblance to a rape that had taken place months earlier in a nearby town. She joined forces with the detective on that case, Edna Hendershot, and the two soon discovered they were dealing with a serial rapist: a man who photographed his victims, threatening to release the images online, and whose calculated steps to erase all physical evidence suggested he might be a soldier or a cop. Through meticulous police work the detectives would eventually connect the rapist to other attacks in Colorado--and beyond. Based on investigative files and extensive interviews with the principals, A False Report is a serpentine tale of doubt, lies, and a hunt for justice, unveiling the disturbing truth of how sexual assault is investigated today--and the long history of skepticism toward rape victims.
- ISBN-13: 9781524759933
- ISBN-10: 1524759937
- Publisher: Crown Publishing Group (NY)
- Publish Date: February 2018
- Page Count: 304
- Dimensions: 9.4 x 6.3 x 1.2 inches
- Shipping Weight: 1.1 pounds
An investigation as horrifying as it is necessary
In a Seattle suburb in 2008, an 18-year-old girl woke up to find a stranger with a knife in her apartment bedroom. He bound, blindfolded and gagged her, then raped her and photographed the assault. After he left, she reported the rape to the Lynnwood, Washington, police. They didn’t believe her. They thought Marie had invented the story to get attention and charged her with making a false report.
Two years later in Colorado, the same man raped another woman. Then another. And another. Luckily, the detectives there believed the victims and investigated aggressively. But the harm was done: A serial rapist was at large because the Lynnwood police had failed to do their job properly.
It’s a horrifying story, but not a unique one. In A False Report, an expansion of their Pulitzer Prize-winning ProPublica article “An Unbelievable Story of Rape,” journalists T. Christian Miller and Ken Armstrong posit that centuries of bias against women’s rape allegations continue to infect the U.S. legal system. Much progress has occurred, but not enough and not everywhere. Miller and Armstrong delve deeply into serial rapist Marc Patrick O’Leary’s crimes and the investigation that eventually caught him, weaving together Marie’s traumatic experience and the meticulous work of two female detectives and their colleagues that ultimately put O’Leary in prison—and humiliated the Lynnwood police.
After years of depression and drifting, Marie was exonerated. The cops, foster parents and former friends who had refused to believe her apologized, and she went on to a better life. But nothing could really make up for the years lost and anguish endured.