A big congratulations to MrB’s nonprofit investigative reporting organization, ProPublica, on its third Pulitzer Prize! The article was a collaboration with another nonprofit, The Marshall Project, which specializes in covering criminal justice.
T. Christian Miller, a senior reporter for ProPublica, and Ken Armstrong, a writer for The Marshall Project, won the 2016 Pulitzer Prize for Explanatory Reporting for “An Unbelievable Story of Rape.” This is a must-read story, especially if you’ve ever said (or even thought), “Why didn’t she go to the police right away?” about a rape victim.
Eighteen-year-old Marie suffered what some people think of as the only kind of “real” rape, meaning it wasn’t perpetrated by an acquaintance; she hadn’t been drinking; and she hadn’t accepted pills from a famous comedian. She was sleeping alone in her own bed in her own apartment when she was awakened by a stranger with a knife, who tied her up, blindfolded her, gagged her and then raped her. No way you could blame the victim, right? Wrong.
The problem was that Marie — who’d already endured an abusive childhood and multiple moves within the foster-care system — was detached, rather than hysterical, in the wake of the attack. The people closest to her doubted her story based solely on her affect, then passed those doubts to the police. That was enough for the police to start picking through her statements for inconsistencies and treating her as a suspect. Under pressure, she said she’d made up the story. When she tried to recant her recantation, she wasn’t allowed to. She was charged with making a false report and threatened with a year in jail.
Meanwhile, a serial rapist really was on the loose — one who continued to rape after Marie’s attack. To learn about the extent of his crime spree and how he was finally caught, read the whole story yourself. You’ll also find out what kind of behaviors to expect from rape victims. (Hint: Victims don’t have to live up to whatever expectations you’ve developed from watching crime shows on television.)
There are related, eye-opening stories to read that dispel other myths about rape and criminal justice:
- The FBI Built a Database That Can Catch Rapists — Almost Nobody Uses It
- Rape Is Rape, Isn’t It?
- A Brutal Crime, Often Terribly Investigated
- Transcript: How Not to Handle a Rape Investigation
- How We Reported It
Finally, much respect to Marie for sharing her story. I hope it changes some minds and lives.