Victim Sues After Washington Police Accuse Her of Lying About Serial Rapist

| by Sarah Fruchtnicht
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A teen in Lynwood, Wash., is suing police and city officials after they accused her of lying when she reported being raped in 2008. The serial rapist, Marc Patrick O’Leary, was convicted and sentenced to more than 300 years in prison in 2011.

The woman, indentified only as D.M., was 18 years old when she was raped in 2008. She said O’Leary tied her up and assaulted her. According to her suit as reported by Courthouse News, police told her she “made up the story” and pressured her to recant her statements. Police charged D.M. with filing a false police report. The suit states that detectives “continued to bully” her until she involuntarily signed what turned out to be a confession.

Despite physical evidence and doctors who confirmed abrasions on her vagina and her wrists, O’Leary was let go.

For three years, O’Leary raped more women in Washington and Colorado. In 2011, he pleaded guilty to 28 of 39 felony counts. He confessed to raping D.M. and another woman in Kirkland, Wash.

"I'm standing here because I need to be in prison,” O’Leary told the court. "I know that probably more than anyone in this room. I've known it for awhile."

Chief Deputy District Attorney Robert Weiner said the case was "one of the most extreme cases we have seen."

At the time of the assault, D.M. was living in Cocoon House, a federally funded shelter for youth transitioning out of foster care.

"During the course of the assault, defendant O'Leary threatened plaintiff D.M. 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 complaint said.

After speaking to several people who doubted her story including one anonymous phone call, police decided she was lying.

"Sometime between Aug. 11 and Aug. 14, 2008, Defendant Sgt. [Jeff A.] Mason spoke with three people who doubted that plaintiff D.M. had been raped and thought that she had made up the story," the complaint read. "One was an anonymous caller. Another was plaintiff D.M.'s foster mother, Peggy F. Cunningham. Cunningham and D.M. 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 D.M. had a phone conversation on the night she was raped."

The claim continues, "None of these individuals claimed that they were with D.M. at the time she was raped, or that they had any personal knowledge of what D.M. 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."

The claim stated Mason and Defendant Det. Jerry Ritgarn stopped looking for the suspect.

According to the claim, "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."

According to the suit filed in federal court, police also failed to read D.M. her Miranda rights when they interrogated her on Aug. 14, 2008.

D.M. claims that Cocoon House, a residential and case management home, told her that if she did not rescind the charges she would be kicked out. She said Cocoon House officials held a meeting after she returned from the police station on Aug. 18 and made D.M. tell all participants that she lied about being raped.

D.M. seeks damages from  O'Leary, the City of Lynnwood, the Lynwood police chief, two officers and public defense attorney, Cocoon House and two of its managers accusing them of civil rights violations, defamation and negligence.

Sources: Raw Story, Courthouse News Service, Denver Post