Almost immediately after launching the petition, with the pressure of 500 swift signatures, Ms. received a response from the Lynnwood Commander of Police, Steve Rider.
Rider expressed remorse and has reminded his department of “the importance of conducting these types of cases professionally, thoroughly and with a great deal of sensitivity for the victims." Training for all officers and detectives by the county Special Assault Unit is planned.
While there is no way to undo the wrong that was done to the woman at the heart of this case, police were quick to admit their mistakes, accept responsibility, and make efforts to make sure they don't wind up in the same situation again. Ms. will keep an eye on the police department to see that it makes good on its promises.
In 2008, an 18-year-old woman in Washington state reported to police that she had been sexually assaulted. But they didn’t believe her, so they charged her with false reporting, and she pleaded guilty under a deal that included a fine of $500. The charge remains on her record. Three years later, Marc O'Leary, the man who raped her, was arrested in Colorado after raping at least two other women--and police found a photo of the Washington victim among his belongings.
Lynnwood police have refunded the $500 fine to the victim, and say they are working on getting the false reporting conviction removed from her record. But that's not enough to rectify the grave injustice that was done to the Washington victim, nor to be sure it won't happen again.
Ask the Lynnwood police department to take action to correct this injustice, starting with a public apology to the victim. Furthermore, to ensure that another rape survivor isn't dismissed again, ask the department to revise its policy on rape charges. Specifically, suggest that the department partner with anti-sexual assault organizations in the community to:
(1) provide a trained victim's advocate to help any woman who reports a rape
(2) mandate a sexual assault training for all officers to ensure they understand how to talk with victims—and that not all victims tell their stories in the same way.