On July 9, 1984, reporter Joanna Connors was on assignment for the Cleveland Plain Dealer when she was raped on the stage of an empty theater at Case Western Reserve University. Her assailant, 27-year-old David Francis, was arrested and sent to prison. In I Will Find You, she offers an insightful account of this life-changing event and its harrowing aftermath.
Connors describes the brutal crime, police investigation and trial with emotional honesty that’s complemented by her reporting skills. Francis’ arrest wasn’t difficult given the fact that he had his name tattooed on his arm, and that he inexplicably returned to the scene of the crime the next day.
Connors remained haunted not only by the event but by Francis’ chilling threat to find her if she reported it. She raised a son and daughter, not telling them about the crime until her daughter was about to go to college.
At that point, she decided, “Maybe I should find him instead.” A records search revealed that her assailant had died in prison in 2000. “My search for him was over before it started,” she writes.
And yet it wasn’t. Connors diligently tracked down Francis’ friends and family, discovering that his family life was filled with poverty, abuse from his father, alcoholism, addiction and crime. Her investigation leads her to conclude that her rapist and his family were victims in their own right.
She writes: “As a reporter, I have asked so many other people to open themselves up and let me tell their stories, all the while withholding my own. I owed this to them. I owed it to other women who have been raped. I owed it to my children.”
Connors’ riveting, soul-searching book deserves a wide audience; it presents an unusual first-person perspective on critical issues of race, class and crime in America.