Two Pulitzer Prize Winning Journalists Tell The Riveting True Story Of Marie, A Teenager Who Was Charged With Lying About Having Been Raped, And The Detectives Who Followed A Winding Path To Arrive At The Truth On August , , Eighteen Year Old Marie Reported That A Masked Man Broke Into Her Apartment Near Seattle, Washington, And Raped Her, But Within Days Police And Even Those Closest To Marie Became Suspicious Of Her Story The Police Swiftly Pivoted And Began Investigating Her Confronted With Inconsistencies In Her Story And The Doubts Of Others, Marie Broke Down And Said Her Story Was A Lie Police Charged Her With False Reporting One Of Her Best Friends Created A Web Page Branding Her A LiarMore 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 The Attacker S Calm And Practiced Demeanor, Which Led The Victim To Surmise He S Done This Before 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 Realized 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 BeyondBased On Investigative Files And Extensive Interviews With The Principals, An Unbelievable Story Is A Serpentine Tale Of Doubt, Lies, And A Hunt For Justice, Unveiling The Disturbing Reality Of How Sexual Assault Is Investigated Today And The Long History Of Skepticism Toward Rape Victims

10 thoughts on “A False Report: A True Story of Rape in America

  1. says:

    Marie told Rittgarn she had been attacked, that she wasn t making the rapist up She began to cry, saying she kept having a vision of him on top of her Rittgarn wasn t moved Later, when recounting Marie s words in a written report, he would put the word him in quotation marks. In 2008, a young woman known as Marie reported being raped Within just a few days, the investigation became an interrogation of Marie herself, as the police, her family, and her friends all began to doubt her story Convinced she would never be believed, Marie told the police she had lied and made it up She was then charged with false reporting.More than two years later, Marie s rapist a serial predator was found and convicted I cannot even begin to imagine the horrific situation Marie found herself in Not only was she a victim of one of the most horrendous crimes that can happen to a person, but everyone she should have been able to turn to and trust didn t believe her This should be the kind of isolated case that hardly ever happens, but it unfortunately highlights a much bigger trend in how rape cases are handled It is a crime quite unlike any other in that the victim becomes as much a suspect as the perpetrator.The first two thirds approximately of this book focuses on the solving of the crimes in question The authors write with a very engaging style, making this piece of non fiction read like a novel that pulls us in and doesn t let go The chapters alternate between what happened to Marie, a psychological history of the rapist, and two years later when another investigation leads police to tie newer crimes back to what happened to Marie in 2008.It was horrifying and yet impossible to look away from.Then we come to the final third of the book and the authors shift gears, now exploring the history behind the psychology of rape investigations, such as the seventeenth century Hale warning , which instructs jurors to always be wary of the false accusation It was extremely interesting and saddening to see just how long the history is of male lawmakers fearing and cautioning against the scorned woman who contrives false charges of sexual offences by men.This section contains lots of information about how this attitude has grown and developed over the centuries, such as Thomas Jefferson writing a letter to James Madison, who would author the bill of rights, opposing harsh punishment for rape because women often cry rape as an instrument of vengeance Even in the twentieth century, John Henry Wig wrote No judge should ever let a sex offense charge go to the jury unless the female complainant s social history and mental makeup have been examined and testified to by a qualified physician I am so glad the authors of this book are bringing attention to both Marie s case and the appalling history behind the poor treatment of rape victims Made up statistics about false reporting will still fly around, of course, but hopefully this book will encourage people to question them.Blog Facebook Twitter Instagram Youtube

  2. says:

    A False Report A True Story of Rape in America by T Christian Miller, Ken Armstrong is a 2018 Crown Publishing Group publication In the United States, there s no saying how many women have been accused of making a false claim of rape, only to have the claim later proved to be true There is no such statistic kept But even Marie s case the extreme example where persecution becomes prosecution, where a victim is not only accused of lying, but criminally charged with it does not stand alone At least three other cases like it have surfaced in media reports since the 1990s This book is absolutely harrowing, maddening, and sad Don t approach it if you have hypertension because you may find your blood pressure shooting through the roof Marie s life had been difficult, and by eighteen, she had already suffered much Things got far worse when she became a rape survivor and was brave enough to report the rape to the local authorities But, after repeating her experience several times, the police noticed her story was not exactly the same every time Not only that, those who were supposed to stand up for her, doubted her story as well Finally, after much pressure, Marie recanted her story, then found herself charged with filing a false report Meanwhile, one of the most clever, sick, and diabolical, serial rapist was on the loose in Colorado Thankfully, Edna Hendershot and Sarah Galbraith were tenacious and very thorough However, this case is an all too familiar accounting of what really goes on once a rape has been reported It should not be necessary to add a trigger alert here The rapist s habits and state of mind is detailed and it is absolutely sickening, chilling, and very disturbing But, the focus of the book is on the investigation, which nearly reads like a police procedural at times, and on the way law enforcement meets a report of rape with instant skepticism, the indignities so many women must endure AFTER a sexual assault The statistics were startling, the investigation riveting, and approach to interviewing rape survivors is appalling The authors did a great job at fleshing out what was initially a long form newspaper article Both men are Pulitzer prize winners, and T Christian Miller has written for ProPublica, one of very favorite investigative publications Naturally, the work is very detailed, well researched, and organized While what happened to Marie and the idea that if she had been taken seriously, if her account had been believed, then it may have spared others, had me fuming, and feeling incredibly frustrated, it is a very important book, one that shines a hot spotlight on the difficulties women face in reporting a rape Hopefully, this book will help draw attention to how those who have been sexually assaulted are treated by some members of law enforcement, the stigma, the traumatic procedures women must endure, and the consequences of doubting anyone who comes forward to report a crime Marie s story is infuriating, but, I m glad she finally found redemption and absolution, although it took irrefutable proof to obtain it 4 stars.

  3. says:

    In 2008 an 18 year old woman reported that she was raped at knife point in her apartment in Lynwwod, WA The police did not believe her because there were inconsistencies in her story The victim finally admitted that she had lied, the investigating officer charged her with charged with a gross misdemeanor, punishable by up to a year in jail What actually happened was that the police did not believe her and pressured her to recant her story, not understanding that many victims of violent crimes have difficulty describing what happened to them The inconsistencies wasn t because she was lying, the inconsistencies were caused by the trauma she suffered.Ken Armstong, The Marshall Project and Christian Miller, ProPubilica working in tandem have written about how police treat rape victims While the Lynnwood police department did not believe their rape victim, the police in Golden, Colorado did and they followed the correct procedures for handling rape crimes First off, they believed their victims, they reached out to other area police departments looking for similar type occurrences When confirmations of other similar rapes came the police departments worked together to identify the rapist, Marc Leary.This book is examines how we as a society view rape How are views were shaped, why we see some of the reactions to people claim of sexual assault The MeToo movement will hopefully have a positive impact on our handling of sexual assault.This is a well written book about a very difficult subject This review was originally posted on The Pfaeffle Journal

  4. says:

    This book, A False Report A True Story of Rape in America is a collaborative project between journalists T Christian Miller and Ken Armstrong Both journalists had been working on their individual projects when they realized they had been reporting on the same series of rapes Mr Miller had been reporting on a series of rapes in Colorado for Pro Publica, an investigative news organization And Mr Armstrong had been investigating a story regarding a rape in Lynnwood, Washington for the Marshall Project, a group that focuses on the criminal justice system In August 2008, a young woman named Marie reported to police that, in the early hours of the morning, a stranger had broken into her apartment, tied her hands with her own shoelaces, gagged her and raped her The rapist took photos of her throughout the assault and then made her shower for 20 minutes Before leaving her apartment with the linens from her bed, he warned her that if she called the police, he would post the photos online for her friends and family to see.Sadly and most unfortunately, Marie s story only gets worse Marie was questioned and asked to relate her story to Sergeant Jeffery Mason and Detective Jerry Rittgarn of the Lynnwood Police Department The officers were bothered by small inconsistencies which crept into Marie s story after relating her story multiple times They were also bothered by her demeanor she was far too calm, they thought Marie, who was 18 years old and living on her own for the first time, had spent her life living in a succession of foster homes The Marie s latest foster mother, Peggy, heard that she had been raped, she was immediately doubtful, feeling that Marie had always had a flair for drama Peggy decided to confide her doubts to the police and her suspicion, combined with the police s doubts, set into motion events which would lead not only to a miscarriage of justice but would also impact Marie s life for years What the Lynnwood police did in Marie s case is an example of what NOT to do when conducting a rape investigation.Sergeant Mason and Detective Rittgarn decided that Marie had been lying about being raped and they began interrogating her as if she was a suspect pressuring her to recant and threatening to charge her with the crime of lying to the police Because of Marie s difficult past and her tentative support system, she buckled under the pressure and told police she had lied Marie was then charged with lying to police and would spend years trying to put this unnecessary trauma behind her.The manner in which the Lynnwood police handled or mishandled Marie s case had direct consequences for several women living 1300 miles away in Colorado In 2011, Golden, Colorado police Detective Stacy Galbraith was assigned to investigate a rape The victim reported that in the early morning hours, she was awakened by a man straddling her in her bed He was dressed in dark clothing and wearing a black mask He bound her hands and raped her, taking photographs throughout the assault He then forced her to shower for 20 minutes before leaving with her bed linens Sound familiar That night, Detective Galbraith decided to discuss the case with her husband a fellow detective and her description held a ring of familiarity to her husband he was reminded of a rape which had occurred in Westminster, Colorado and he put her in touch with the detective investigating that case, Edna Hendershot.The Colorado rape cases, occurring over a several year period and in three police jurisdictions. Golden, Westminster and Aurora demonstrates how justice CAN be served when police derpartments work together and share information and when officers are properly trained in how to question rape victims in particular, when they are aware of the myriad of normal behaviors that can be expressed by traumatized people Hint Do not become suspicious over inconsistencies in the victim s story immediately after an assault and do NOT expect every victim to display intense emotions or hysteria Using cooperative police procedures, the latest in analyzing evidence collected at the rape scenes DNA and other trace evidence and the compassionate and analytical questioning of the victims, the three police departments got the break they needed in these cases First, they were able to prove conclusively using very minimal DNA left at the crime scenes that all three of the rapes were committed by the same man Ultimately, a 30 year old Lakewood , Colorado resident Marc O Leary was arrested, tried and convicted for these crimes Unfortunately, the Colorado rapes need not have occurred if the Lynnwood police had chosen to believe Marie s story and had investigated the crime Interestingly, the Colorado police did seize a computer belonging to O Leary and a thumb drive which contained dozens of photos of the women he had assaulted including Marie This book by Mr Miller and Mr Armstrong was part true crime and part police procedural but it was also an indictment of the culture we have created regarding our view and treatment of rape victims Describing the normalization and minimalization of rape as rape culture , the authors discuss just how common the belief is in our society that when college aged men rape, they are simply making youthful mistakes and it would be awful if they were forced to serve time in jail or lose their college scholarships People hold this belief despite the results of a survey of young men which showed that one out of three said they would rape if they could get away with it If you re interested in this aspect of rape cultural specifically, I would recommend that you read the well researched book by Jon Krakaeur called Missoula Rape and the Justice System in a College Town The authors go on to describe our rape culture as one which also manages to blame the victims by pointing out that how much a woman drinks or what type of clothing she wears can be used to justify the belief that a woman was asking to be raped And our rape culture can also explain the skepticism and disbelief that some police officers display toward victims who report rape This disbelief frequently leads to a miscarriage of justice as was demonstrated in Marie s case.I can t say that I learned much from this book that I hadn t already been aware of but what I read was depressingly illustrative of how little things have changed in the 30 years since I read Susan Brownmiller s groundbreaking book called Against Our Will Men, Women and Rape Perhaps the MeToo movement which has become so popular will be instrumental in bringing not only recognition of sexual violence against women, but also real change in our culture and how we think about rape we can hope so anyway.

  5. says:

    Marie, an eighteen year old, who belonged to a support program for teenagers aging out of foster care Amber, in her twenties, was a graduate student at a local college Sarah, who had recently buried her husband eight weeks after he had been diagnosed with cancer Doris, age 65, worked as a housemother at a local fraternity.And countless other women all connected by the actions of single man In this book, Miller weaves an together the tale of a serial rapist who received a sentence of over 327 and half years in prison for his actions which afflicted upwards 30 women Based off a true story, this book gets into the nitty gritty of the rape case all while keeping the reader s interest Reader discretion is advised while reading this book as Miller does not skimp out on the details, each case recited as the victims would to an officer However, that aside the book is written much like a narrative as opposed to a police report Every event leading to another, keeping the reader s interest throughout Miller even managed to incorporate multiple POVs, giving the reader insights on not only the police investigation and the victims lives, but also insights on the rapist, as a few chapters were written in his perspective Obviously, without revealing his name Miller did an impressive amount of research while writing this book Each case was written as if Miller was at the scene when the victim recounted the incident, or when the police conducted their investigation Not only does he include specifics about each individual case, but he also includes tidbits about the police investigation The technical aspects associated with finding a culprit with DNA samples also added another dimension to the book Asides from that, the book was empowering especially given the content Rape is like the bastard child of crimes, something no one really wants to deal with Leading to cases similar to a few described in Miller s book Plus, paired with the success of the few female officers that dominated these cases, this book radiated qualities associated with the feminist movement In all, hats off to Miller for writing such an interesting book Combining both the plethora of information that the case consisted off as well as format in which the book was written in, Miller had me hooked the entire time.

  6. says:

    How do you defend yourself when someone accuses you of rape , I believe that was the statement that William Kennedy Smith so stoically announced during his trial back in the early 90 s The public was glued to their television sets when Court TV was still on the air this was a tremendous trial He was acquitted but guilty of that rape and several others The woman who had the nerve to take him to trial had her creditability ripped her to shreds for all to see.This book isn t about that case, but I can still picture him on the stand all smug and composed posing that question to the jury, that poor woman didn t stand a chance It s hard for a woman to come forward after a rape just thinking of many obstacles they face, let alone considering that chances of the perpetrator will be caught and brought to justice is slim to none We hear of all these decades old rape kits that are that are now being discovered in a basement at some police departments or the current ones that are waiting in line for DNA testing that may take years before they ll be tested is a daunting thought.These women fought back they did the right things they called the police, these survivors went to the hospital to get examined, they didn t wait I was stunning at the number of times that a specific survivor had to recall her assault because the detectives who caught her case kept finding inconsistencies in her statement The survivor s prior behavior before and after the attack was in question regarding her case I was furious that several people who were close to the young survivor went to the detectives and added suspicions regarding her claim There is no right or wrong way to how a survivor responds to a sexual assault I thought this book was very informative and I applaud the investigative reporters who brought this case to light It was a real eye opener, I ve worked in Law Enforcement and dealt with sexual assault survivors and to quote one of the statements in the book, You know what these complaints represent The Sgt told Ms Browmiller Prostitutes who didn t get their money I ve heard that statement before, and I was livid If a prostitute reports a sexual assault they should be should be treated just as seriously as elderly Sunday Sunday teacher I m glad that finally, detectives are getting the specialized training they need to handle these type of cases In the past, it seemed as if a sexual assault case came through a police department it would always land on the females detective s deskAnother thing I liked about this book is that it s not bogged down with a lot of dry statistics it was an easy read I want to thank the publisher and NetGalley for providing me with a copy of this e galley in exchange for my honest opinion.

  7. says:

    Whenever a story hits the news involving sexual assaults that happened years before, people inevitably ask that if such a thing happened why the accuser waited so long to report it This book does a good job answering that question Men, women and children who report rape often immediately become suspects Are they making up the allegation What role did they play in their own victimization And these suspicions don t just come from the police They often come from family and friends as well Sometimes whole communities turn against them These kinds of doubts dissuade most victims from reporting attacks It s estimated that about 80% of rapes aren t reported A False Report tells one of these stories When Marie reported that a masked man broke into her apartment, tied her up and raped her, the police did initially take her seriously However, when her former foster mothers and a case worker with an organization devoted to helping foster children develop independence expressed doubts about Marie s claim, the investigation was immediately derailed Detectives forced her to recant and threatened her if she didn t Feeling like she had no choice, she did recant and was then charged with false reporting She was offered a plea deal and paid a fine The rapist was still out there and no one was investigating He committed another rape in Washington State before moving to Colorado He carried out his attacks in different jurisdictions under the assumption the police wouldn t cooperate Thankfully, that isn t what happened The lead detectives worked together and got the FBI involved When the rapist was caught, pictures of Marie were found on his computer She was vindicated and the police department put reforms in place to try to prevent something like it from happening again Considering that most rapes are carried out by serial rapists, taking accusations seriously can stop future attacks Skepticism protects rapists from accountability Many people worry about false accusations While they do happen, falsely accusing accusers of lying is far widespread As a detective in the book says, police shouldn t believe or disbelieve an accusation They should listen to the accuser and then thoroughly investigate Taking this unbiased approach is commonsense but right now that isn t what s happening Hopefully books like this can help bring about change.

  8. says:

    Very well written about true events leading up to the conviction of a serial rapist If you like dateline, forensic files, etc., you should enjoy this book.

  9. says:

    Powerful stuff and for the open minded an incredibly important book at a unique point in time I hope it becomes widely read and, importantly, discussed I m not suggesting that this book, alone, will alter, inform, or evolve the national narrative on rape, but it s a step in the right direction.At a time when the sentient, thinking public when we, as a nation have been forced or at least given the opportunity to rethink so many of our preconceived notions about gender and, of course, race , books like this provide meaningful context solid grounding to reorient our thinking The powerful combination of data, trends, and mind searing individual anecdotes drive home innumerable and important gender related issues And, yikes, the list could go on an on But just start with the dominant male distrust of female veracity yeah, just stop for a moment and think about what that means in a court system dominated by male judges, prosecutors, and defense attorneys, and then place that atop a male dominated police force defined by its macho culture and one begins to realize how fraught, skewed, loaded, and incendiary any rape related situations can easily become.Just as an example and it s tangential to the larger enterprise but I was fascinated by the book s passage that dealt with the impact of female cops It was not surprising, but thought provoking, to learn that, among other things, women are less likely to use excessive force women are less likely to be involved in suits alleging police abuse citizens rank female cops empathetic and communicative women cops readily embrace the goals of community policing women cops respond effectively to violence against women and women cops likely to make arrests in domestic violence cases But dwell on this statistic, just for moment in large metropolitan police departments, one percent women cops correlate to one percent increases in rape reporting within jurisdiction And, yes, sadly two thirds of women cops report in surveys to suffering some form of sexual harassment Again, this is not the main thrust of the book, but I found it emblematic of the authors ability to intertwine the compelling narrative story line with relevant research to put the larger issues in context Despite its content and on that below , the book succeeds and is again, in context a surprisingly easy read because quite simply Miller and Armstrong can write efficiently, elegantly, effectively I have no hesitation throwing this into a haphazardly stacked pile of well received, popular modern non fiction by some of the most skilled craftsmen making history accessible and readable, sometimes referred to as the new, new journalists, including Erik Larson or Laura Hillenbrand or Hampton Sides or Jon Krakauer, and, for me, to a lesser extent, maybe Tim Egan or Robert Kurson whose diving books, particularly Shadow Divers, have a well deserved, near cult like following Gratuitous trigger warning This is full length book about rape, rapes, rapists, victims or survivors , rape investigation and prosecution, and societal perspectives and misunderstandings of all of the above If the word RAPE in the title didn t catch your eye, just let there be no doubt in your mind that beneath all of the veneer and sheen of accomplished journalism what propels the book and animates the story line is a mind numbing collection of brutal, depressing, uncomfortable, no way can that be true, that s the kind of stuff that keeps me up at night facts BOTH with regard to individual rapes and incidents, individuals, and to me, disturbingly macro level data and national trends If this book doesn t make you uncomfortable, well, I ll stop there Shelving disclaimer I ve shelved this book with other Pulitzer Prize winners I ve read, and, while I think that makes sense, it s not entirely accurate Miller Armstrong won the Pulitzer for the long form article, published a while back, that formed the foundation for the book So, to be clear, this book did not win a Pulitzer, but the work by these authors that became the foundation for the book did, and that s good enough for me.Really glad I read the book, and I recommend it without hesitation.

  10. says:

    This is about a young woman s report of being raped that gets all twisted up Written by 2 Pulitzer Prize winning journalists, the book follows the story of eighteen year old Marie She is made to question herself because of doubters, so she recants, then tries to stand by her report, but police shake her confidence so badly she caves when she s actually telling the truth She has been made to feel like she s not going to be believed by her rapist, preprogrammed before she ever came forward Sad really, when someone who s been marginalized from birth can t get a square deal when she really needs to be heard and believed at an important crossroads in her life People all around her fail her What happened to Marie was bad enough Even worse, the rapist goes free to move on to other areas and continue raping An advance digital copy was provided by NetGalley, author T Cristian Miller, and Random House for my review The date of publication is Feb 6, 2018