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Writer Vindicates Rape Victim

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Message Michael Leon
Madison, Wisconsin - Patty was raped by an intruder at knifepoint on September 4, 1997 in her own home.

But no one who should believed her, not the police, and not the D.A.'s office.

What transpired is best explained in the words of one of the few people who did believe and sympathize with the rape victim, Bill Lueders, a heroic news editor of the Isthmus newspaper (Madison, Wisconsin).

"What happened from then on was, her attorney (Hal Harlowe) later said, 'a rape victim's worst nightmare.'"

For the next year, police and prosecutors perpetuated the assault. Aside from the not-uncommon humiliation of being quizzed by a male detective about penis size and vaginal lubrication, Patty bore the added indignity of not being believed. On the initiative of this one detective, Patty's report of being raped was turned into an investigation of her."

A month after the assault...Patty was summoned to a surprise interrogation in which police repeatedly lied to and bullied her while getting her to 'confess' that she made the whole thing up."

Three months later, the county district attorney's office, without a trace of irony, charged Patty with obstructing (lying to) an officer, a misdemeanor. Then, for the next seven months, in preparation for trial, police and prosecutors intensified their invasions of her privacy,'" writes Lueders (".

After first hearing that Patty was getting charged, Lueders wept. "I cried all the way to work," Lueders said. "..."That something so terrible could happen in my city broke my heart" (The Capital Times, September 9, 2006).

But Lueders did more than simply care. He dug, he researched, and he wrote piece after piece in the Isthmus, until with the efforts of Patty's attorney, Hal Harlowe, they finally convinced the state crime lab to conduct DNA testing garnering evidence that confirmed Patty's rape (and led to the arrest of the perpetrator).

Just under two weeks before Patty was to face trial, the charge was dropped.

But that was just the beginning of Patty's trials, that ultimately, with the help of a very small number of people, resulted in the complete vindication (including an allocation of $35,000 to Patty from an appalled Madison Common Council alerted to the ordeal by Lueders' book) of a rape victim in a city that regards itself as a progressive oasis.

Read Cry Rape, The True Story of One Woman's Harrowing Quest for Justice (

Now, as Patty is the subject of national media attention, official apologies, and changes in policies dealing with sensitive crimes, never forget that the work of one journalist and one lawyer can salvage a life (

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Michael Leon is a writer living in Madison, Wisconsin. His writing has appeared nationally in The Progressive, In These Times, and CounterPunch. He can be reached at
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