October 29, 2012
Seventeen-year-old Jessica* is a bright girl who likes to spend time at church and with her friends. She just graduated from high school, and she dreams of starting college in the fall to study English.
These dreams seemed impossible to Jessica when at 16 she was raped by a man who threatened her with a knife as she was leaving school. Jessica felt that her life had been frozen in time; shame and dread consumed her.
Jessica’s parents went to the police to report the crime, and over the next year, police began to suspect that a serial rapist was behind Jessica’s rape and that of at least 25 other girls. Unfortunately, they couldn’t identify him or get an arrest. That’s when the police turned to Association for a More Just Society investigators and lawyers for help. In difficult cases like this one, they provide the extra logistical and investigative expertise needed to bring justice. With their support, police arrested the alleged rapist in May 2012.
While AJS investigators and lawyers worked on the case, AJS psychologist Gloria contacted all the survivors and their families offering psychological counseling to help the girls get their lives back on track. Gloria now works with many of the girls in group therapy sessions. They talk directly about the trauma they experienced, but also about self-esteem and how to make good decisions. Jessica says, “Gloria has really helped me since what happened. She helps me to make good decisions. And if I have a problem I can talk to her.”
The team assisted with the first trial against the serial rapist in the last week of November which ended with a guilty sentence. Now he will be tried for all the other rapes as well. Gloria assures that the team will “be with the survivors throughout the whole process”, giving them the opportunity to dream again.
*Name changed to protect individual’s privacy and security.