I’m writing out my life in a timeline, so to experience my story the way its supposed to be told, start at I Was That Girl In School… then proceed chronologically by post date.
It was now time to lawyer up. I met up with my lawyer and my Guardian Angel and I explained everything that had happened including the first time he raped me months before. They consoled me when I cried. They reminded me that I was strong. They encouraged me when I started to doubt myself. If it weren’t for the two of them, I’m not sure justice would have ever been served; at least not in my case.
For those of you unfamiliar with court cases, they can take months, years even, to ever be completed. From the day he pulled a knife on me to the sentencing hearing, my case lasted 8 months.
The first hearing was the arraignment hearing on March 8. This was the first time I saw The Recluse since January 20. He was wearing an orange jumpsuit and was shackled; his hands and feet. He was escorted by two armed guards and joined at the defense table by his appointed attorney. It was at this time that I had to share my story with the judge and everyone present in the courtroom. Because I had to be as detailed as possible, I asked my parents and my aunt to remain outside before hand (Boyfriend had to work). It was going to be hard enough to share my story with complete strangers; I didn’t need the added pressure knowing that my parents were listening too.
I explained what had happened. I was holding on to the lectern as it was hard for me to stand with all the nerves coursing through my body. After I gave my deposition and the judge asked me a slew of questions, my attorney brought charges against The Recluse: one count of car jacking for taking my keys from the ignition, one count of breaking and entering for forcing me to open the door to the house, and two counts of sexual assault. It was then The Recluse’s turn to plead.
“NOT GUILTY, YOUR HONOR.”
The judge gave us the dates for the trial by jury: June 13 & 14, then slammed his gavel and dismissed us. My attorney led me to a small room were my family was waiting. Mom greeted me with a hug as my Guardian Angel told my parents and my aunt what his plea was. I turned as there was a knock on the door and was surprised to see Mrs. Saintly (Boyfriend’s mom) entering the room.
“You were so strong in there. I’m proud of you.”
I didn’t want my own family in the court room. Why the hell did she think I would want her there!?
If you don’t know by now, I shy away from conflict as much as possible, so of course, I didn’t say anything to her about it. Plus, what would come of it if I had? My family and I invited Mrs. Saintly back to the house for dinner where Boyfriend would be meeting us as well. To everyone’s surprise, she agreed.
Mrs. Saintly was the last to arrive to the house with a teddy bear in tow. She gave it to me saying that I might like something to hug after everything that happened earlier. Really lady!? The last thing I want is a memento to remind me of that day at all. When she left, it ended up in the trash.
Three months flew by and the trial date had arrived. My Guardian Angel sat with me the whole time; she told me what to do and answered questions I had. The trial first began with the jury members being brought in. I was horrified when I recognized one of them as a neighbor that lived down the road. I didn’t know her very well; only really knew her face and the fact that she frequented a community banquet every month, same as my family. That realization alone made me very nervous.
Once the jury was settled, they brought The Recluse in. This time, he was wearing a suit, but still handcuffed, until he reached the defense table. I refused to make eye contact with him, but could feel his eyes on me. Since my entourage were all witnesses, they weren’t in the courtroom. They would be allowed to sit-in after they gave their testimony. My attorney started the trial with the Commonwealth’s opening statement followed by the Defense Attorney’s opening statement. It was at this point that reality struck; I was really going through with it…
I was the first to testify. On being asked to take the stand, I realized that the path to do so required me to cross directly in front of the defense table; a mere 2 feet away from my rapist. Who the hell thought that setup was a good idea!?
Once on the stand, I spent hours answering questions. My Guardian Angel told me before hand to only answer questions that were asked directly. I tried to follow her guidance, but ended up being corrected by the judge on a few occasions. My attorney would ask a question, I would answer, unless the D.A. would object. For someone who is not used to court proceedings, this became very unnerving for me. I felt like I was doing something wrong. And it only continued when the D.A. began questioning; my attorney would then object.
I got a sense when answering questions from my attorney, that he was leading me to tell my story. “After this happened, what did you do?” “Do you recall…?” Where as when answering questions from the D.A., I felt like she was trying to get me to lie; twisting my words and making me second guess myself. “How did you call your boss if your purse was in your car? You didn’t go outside to retrieve your cell phone? But you said earlier…” All I kept thinking was “Why are you defending him? Don’t you believe me?” I now realize that she was only doing her job; a job that I will never understand how one could want to do.
After my testimony, they ushered in witness after witness. I didn’t know it then, but I had over 20 witnesses on my list whereas The Recluse only had three: two of which were dismissed because they were only character witnesses. The third one was his parole officer with whom The Recluse called the day of. I got to relive that day through everyone else’s eyes: Boyfriend, my parents, my aunt, my best friend, my boss, each officer that showed up at the house, the officer that made the arrest, the state police officer that I requested a protective order from weeks before, the SANE nurse, the other nurse, the therapist that I had been seeing weekly since it happened… They were one-by-one called up to the stand, sworn in, and recounted their involvement with my case in a question and answer dialog with each attorney.
With each testimony, more and more evidence was recorded; the knife with his finger prints, the pictures and lab results from my SANE exam, the phone and text message records from both of our phones. Everything pointing to one verdict for The Recluse: guilty. Yet throughout the trial, he stuck to his original plea of not guilty.
At the end of the last day of testimony, both attorney’s made their closing arguments, and the sentencing date was announced: September 20.
Between June and September, Boyfriend and I started mending our relationship. It was nothing like what we once had, but little by little, we began recovering together, so by the time of the sentencing, we were back together and we wanted to show The Recluse just that. As The Recluse was ushered into the courtroom, we made eye contact. He was wearing the same suit he had wore to the jury trial and had a look in his eyes of disgust. I was sitting with my arm locked around Boyfriend’s, staring him down as he crossed the room.
The same group of people entered into the jury seating area as before and the judge asked if they had reached a verdict on all four counts. They had.
On the count of car jacking: Not Guilty.
On the count of breaking and entering with intent to rape: Guilty.
On the count of sexual assault by sodomy: Guilty.
On the count of sexual assault by oral penetration: Guilty.
I couldn’t contain myself. I burst into tears, sobbing quite audibly. Boyfriend and mom both hugged me and my Guardian Angel put her hand on my shoulder and squeezed.
The judge then followed up the verdict with sentencing: 20 years for breaking and entering with intent to rape and two life time sentences for sexual assault.
That was it. That was what I wanted; for him to disappear; for him to never be able to hurt me or anyone else ever again; for him to know that he messed with the wrong girl.