22 years on, rape victim fears attacker's release

AP News
Posted: Sep 30, 2011 3:44 PM
22 years on, rape victim fears attacker's release

She's been many things during her long and colorful life: charm school teacher, makeup artist, civil rights advocate _ to name just a few.

But at age 84, the one identity she wants to forget still haunts her daily: rape victim.

Instead of enjoying her retirement and tending the rosebushes in her immaculate garden, the elderly widow has spent recent years preoccupied with a single, looming day.

On Saturday, the man who raped her in her Los Angeles home 22 years ago is set for release.

"I am leaving," the woman told The Associated Press on Thursday as she fielded return calls from landlords with vacant homes. "I have no choice but to run and flee."

The AP does not typically name victims of sex crimes.

Los Angeles police Det. Lauren Rauch, who works for the valley's sex offender unit, said she could understand why the woman was still so afraid.

"She technically still lives in the crime scene," she said. "The fact he is getting out definitely raises some concerns. ... In retrospect, maybe he didn't get as much time as he deserved."

Her attacker, Lloyd Anthony Roy, pleaded guilty in 1989 to raping three women and assaulting another. Even though he was initially charged with felony counts involving attacks on several other women too, prosecutors made a deal with Roy and dropped some of the charges. He was sentenced to 44 years in prison.

"No walk in the park," Robert Nishinaka, the prosecutor, said at the time.

But criminals sentenced back then were often eligible for a day's credit for each day they behaved well in prison. Roy, who said he heard voices in his head before and after his attacks, is set for release after serving half his original sentence.

The law was changed in 1994 to mandate that violent sex offenders must serve at least 85 percent of their sentenced time, though that did not apply to crimes committed before then, California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation spokesman Luis Patino said.

Roy will not be allowed to live within 35 miles of his victims and will be released to the state's parole region that spans the Inland Empire and runs down to San Diego and the Mexican border.

The woman, her cheeks flushed with makeup and her lips coated in pink gloss, has had a busy life filled with community action and local politics. A Democrat, she ran unsuccessfully for Congress in what was once a Republican stronghold. She helped organize consumer boycotts, including one in 1973 protesting the high price of meat.

A framed letter from Jimmy Carter sits on a bookshelf, thanking her and her husband for their support during his campaign ahead of his successful 1976 presidential election.

The couple raised three boys in their 1950s-era ranch home in the sunny San Fernando Valley. Her husband died in 1984.

The woman remains spry but needs help getting up from a couch, from where she tells of the night in early 1989 when she was attacked.

She says she was half asleep when the attacker climbed through the window of her grown son's former bedroom. She heard a sound then saw a flicker of light in the hall. In her tired state, she thought there must be a thunder-and-lightning storm.

As she tried to open her son's door, she felt a weight behind it, then a man yanked it open.

"He turned me around and put a bandanna on me, but I saw a tattoo on his clavicle," she says. "He said, `Stop crying, or I will kill you.'"

At knifepoint, he took her to another room and repeatedly raped her over several hours. She says she only survived by staying silent when he asked if he could return to do some handy work in the house or yard.

After fetching himself a glass of water and smoking cigarettes, the attacker left after putting the screen back on the window he'd climbed through.

"He said, `You are lucky that I am allowing you to live, because I usually smother them,'" the woman said. "The way he said it was the way you would order a cup of coffee, it was like nothing."

Roy hasn't been charged in any killing.

The widow still reels at the way police handled the investigation. They were sloppy with evidence, she said, leaving it to her to bring an ashtray, the bandanna and other items to the station. She even ended up paying her own rape-kit examination fee and said police officials have been reluctant to run Roy's DNA through a state database to look for other potential victims.

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The woman still fumes over what she says was a missed opportunity to catch Roy before he claimed another victim. She said he called her sometime after the rape and threatened to kill her unless she immediately went to meet him at a phone booth.

But when she called police, she was told that only detectives could arrest someone for a major crime and, since it was a Saturday, none were working. He raped another woman the next day in Burbank.

Over the past few years, she has spent much of her time reliving her trauma as she contacts any politician, police official or prison worker she can think of in an attempt to keep Roy behind bars.

The state's Department of Mental Health screened Roy but determined he did not meet the criteria of a sexually violent predator, Patino said. He will wear a GPS tracker and must register as a sex offender and won't be allowed near any of his victims' homes as part of a condition of his parole.

Such measures provide scant reassurance for the woman, who feels her right to be safe in her home has been shattered.

"There's a possibility of rehabilitation for robbers, people on drugs and others," she says. "But when it comes to crimes with something to do with something wrong with the brain, I don't think we can release these people back into society until we know how to fix it."

Attorney Robin Sax, who formerly worked in the sex crimes division of the Los Angeles district attorney's office and is familiar with the woman's case, said she thought she would be safe from Roy.

"I don't think he would risk going after her," Sax said.


Watkins can be reached at http://www.twitter.com/thomaswatkins