STARRED REVIEW
February 2018

An investigation as horrifying as it is necessary

By Ken Armstrong & T. Christian Miller

In a Seattle suburb in 2008, an 18-year-old girl woke up to find a stranger with a knife in her apartment bedroom. He bound, blindfolded and gagged her, then raped her and photographed the assault. After he left, she reported the rape to the Lynnwood, Washington, police. They didn’t believe her. They thought Marie had invented the story to get attention and charged her with making a false report.

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In a Seattle suburb in 2008, an 18-year-old girl woke up to find a stranger with a knife in her apartment bedroom. He bound, blindfolded and gagged her, then raped her and photographed the assault. After he left, she reported the rape to the Lynnwood, Washington, police. They didn’t believe her. They thought Marie had invented the story to get attention and charged her with making a false report.

Two years later in Colorado, the same man raped another woman. Then another. And another. Luckily, the detectives there believed the victims and investigated aggressively. But the harm was done: A serial rapist was at large because the Lynnwood police had failed to do their job properly.

It’s a horrifying story, but not a unique one. In A False Report, an expansion of their Pulitzer Prize-winning ProPublica article “An Unbelievable Story of Rape,” journalists T. Christian Miller and Ken Armstrong posit that centuries of bias against women’s rape allegations continue to infect the U.S. legal system. Much progress has occurred, but not enough and not everywhere. Miller and Armstrong delve deeply into serial rapist Marc Patrick O’Leary’s crimes and the investigation that eventually caught him, weaving together Marie’s traumatic experience and the meticulous work of two female detectives and their colleagues that ultimately put O’Leary in prison—and humiliated the Lynnwood police.

After years of depression and drifting, Marie was exonerated. The cops, foster parents and former friends who had refused to believe her apologized, and she went on to a better life. But nothing could really make up for the years lost and anguish endured.

 

This article was originally published in the February 2018 issue of BookPage. Download the entire issue for the Kindle or Nook.

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A False Report

A False Report

By Ken Armstrong & T. Christian Miller
Crown
ISBN 9781524759933

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