It's not easy to share such a personal trauma. However, I am starting this petition to protect other women and young girls from a serial predator and convicted rapist. James Starling is up for parole and should not be let loose on society when there is no chance his deep-seated criminal behavior has been cured or can be fixed.
When you are raped, it never leaves you. My rape was the most terrifying day of my life...but the horror only escalated when I learned James Starling, inmate number 168978, might be paroled.
The man who raped me, and several other women, was sentenced to 50 years in prison. I was shocked, when my daughter asked me while watching Lady Gaga sing her Oscar-nominated anthem about rape, 'Till It Happens To You', "Mom, how old would the man who raped you be now?" A simple google search and 30 seconds later my world stopped. There on my cell phone screen I read that James Starling was up for parole in April 2016, twenty years before his sentence would be complete.
It was impossible to contain my tears, and even more impossible to witness my daughter looking at me, not knowing how to comfort and ease the fear and sadness she saw in me.
My rapist didn't just terrorize me for several hours on April 4, 1986. He had secretly been inside my apartment many times, perhaps every day, stealing things, moving things and I just thought it was me. I was always tired because my job started at 3:00am and went well into the late afternoon. So for months, he was stalking me, and stealing my underwear, my personal photos, all the while everyone said, "Oh you're just tired."
Then on April 4th, I woke to the feeling of a naked body pinning me down and a large knife to my throat. Then I heard the words, "Don't make a noise, or I'll kill you right away." James Starling chose that night because the day before my roommate had moved out. He knew I'd be alone. This was a calculated crime.
To try and put into words the physical sensation of a body baring down on you, squeezing the very breath from your lungs, and the feeling of sharp metal against your throat, is almost impossible. My life flashed in a second. And all I could hear was, "I'm going to kill you and no one will ever find the pieces."
Starling put a pillowcase over my face before I could see his face. He repeatedly told me, "Don't open those brown eyes and try to see me."
James Starling had this night of torture so well planned he brought several pieces of luggage filled with underwear and bras stolen from other homes and apartments across three counties. He also packed professional camera equipment, lighting and everything.
Starling moved me about the room. And dressed me in other people's underwear and posed me in pornographic positions and photographed me...I can only guess there were 100s of pictures. The humiliation and fear lasted for hours. There were moments where his attention turned to rape. Where he committed the crime of sodomy against me repeatedly. I cried and cried and begged him to leave.
My baby nephew Ryan, had just been born, and I was supposed to meet him that weekend. I told this horrible man "I can't die, I have a new baby in my family and you can't make this something that will be a part of his birthday for the rest of his life, you can't do that!" But he repeated again that he would cut me up and no one would ever find me. And told me to, "Shut up!"
I begged for my life.
I also heard the voices of other rape victims in my head. Women I had just talked to days before when I volunteered for a rape hotline. They cried and said, "I wish I could have remembered more details". That's when I realized I needed to start absorbing everything I could while blinded by the pillowcase. I noted, his hairy chest, he kept stopping to smoke, when he moved me from place to place to photograph me, I registered where his voice came from, how tall he might be.
Then he would remind me, "Don't think I'm not going to finish this. Don't try to outsmart me."
At one point I asked him, "Why are you so mean?" He was emotional for just a second and said, "I don't want to be this person, but I can't stop it." For a second I thought I might live. I told him to leave before he was caught, before they came looking for me. Because work would be wondering where I was. Then the phone started ringing.
And it didn't stop. Thank God my co-workers sensed something was wrong.
Then as the pressure was building, with the phone ringing, he raped me. And told me, "I'm coming back to finish you off. This isn't the end."
He put me into the bathroom, I knew I could quickly lock the door, so in a flash, I opened my eyes, and could see his hands. That image helped us catch him.
James Starling never denied raping me. When he was caught breaking into homes, with families inside, he told the police, "I've been waiting for a long time for you to catch me." In fact, in my research after my rape, I met a woman who was his victim when he was just 12-years-old. She found him masturbating into her underwear. Unfortunately for her, and all the other future victims, his father was her boss and insisted she not press charges.
James Starling confessed to my rape, to the sodomy charges, and the rape of another woman. He admitted it. He was sentence to 50 years total for the various crimes.
But now I learn he could get out 20 years BEFORE he's served his total sentence. This is a man, who psychologists said, "...could never be fixed".
He has deep-seated fetishes, hatred toward women, a desire to control with fear and violence, and deviant sexual tendencies. This was not a normal person who could just go to jail, and come out all better.
I plead with you to not release James Starling, Georgia Inmate number 168978.
Keep in mind, when they searched his property, they found over 10 trash bags filled with undeveloped film. When they developed some of it, they discovered countless young girls posing with fear in their eyes. I remember a detective saying, "He's got bodies buried somewhere."
My daughter, your daughters and granddaughters deserve to wake up every day knowing justice is being served because James Starling is serving his full sentence. Protect women. Don't let this rapist and monster free. I beg you.