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Arrested Development

Writing about my rape at the age of seven was the hardest story I'd ever done. Then I landed in jail.

The only good thing I have to say about the Broomfield Police Department is that it has a nice jail. In fact, it is by far the nicest jail I've ever spent four or five hours in while waiting to get bailed out -- and that's saying a lot. The joint is brand-new, and it looks more like an airport waiting lounge than a lock-up. The fingerprinting machine is digital, meaning no messy black ink, and the food is way better than airline fare. The night I was in there, May 29, dinner was a green salad and fresh-baked roll accompanying a main course of macaroni and ground beef in a zesty red sauce. One of the guards called it "Hamburger Surprise, because you'll be surprised it tastes good." He was right. The guards were decent. I was the only prisoner in the holding area, and they changed the channel on the TV so that I could watch the Lakers game. They even let me strike a few yoga poses when I told them that my back hurt, as it always does when I'm stressed.

And I was big-time stressed. That afternoon, the Saturday of Memorial Day weekend, when I should have been playing softball, or climbing, or barbecuing with friends, I had been arrested for felony stalking, handcuffed and led away yelling the names and numbers of my editor and Westword's lawyer over my shoulder. And nice as the Broomfield jail is, it's still jail, and when all the guards in the holding area had to go oversee dinner being served in the general-population cafeteria, they locked me in a concrete cell. I paced. I did push-ups. I said to myself, to the walls, to no one, "Well, isn't this a bitch? The guy who raped me when I was kid just got me arrested. I should have gone ahead and shot his ass."

I was pissed. And I was scared. I lay down on the thin, blue plastic mattress, closed my eyes and tried to calm down. I thought, "I probably shouldn't have sent him that letter, because he probably gave it to the cops."

The letter. I wrote it the night of Tuesday, May 11. I was exhausted, having just finished the most draining story I've ever written, sitting at my desk in the Westword building, waiting for the final copy of "Stalking the Bogeyman," the cover story of the May 13 issue, about how at this time last year, I was plotting the murder of the man who'd raped me in 1978, when he was a teenager and I was seven years old. Three days before, I'd met him for the first time as an adult, in an arranged confrontation on the 16th Street Mall. Although he knew I was a journalist, he wasn't aware the article was coming out, and I wrote him the letter as a heads-up. Plus, I had a few other things to say. The letter was delivered to him the next morning by courier, a few hours before that issue of Westword hit the streets.

This is what he read:

I want to thank you again for meeting me last Saturday.

I also want to let you know that you recently have dodged two bullets, one of them quite literally. This time last year, I was seriously planning to shoot you. I'd staked out your house and followed you. I had a gun and a silencer. I decided to call off my plans after my mom found the diary.

My motive for murder was twofold: revenge, and to prevent you from ever molesting another child again. Until I met you and talked to you, you weren't real to me. You were the Bogeyman. Once I talked to you, I lost all desire to pull the trigger, mainly because I'm no longer convinced you're still molesting. All the experts say that you were almost certainly lying when you told me I was your one and only victim. But then again, all the experts say that molesters will never admit their crimes to their victims, let alone to their parents and wife.

The second bullet was that until I met you, I intended to put your face on the cover of this week'sWestword and print your name as that of the man who raped me when I was seven. I was going to out you, to try and kill you with my keyboard instead of a gun. I'm not doing that now.

There is a story running tomorrow, which will be today by the time you receive this letter, but your name is not printed. There are just enough details about you in the story to give your past a good hard shake. If there are any other dirty secrets lurking in there, they're going to come out, and you're going to get busted. If not, you can deny the story is about you and no one will know for sure.

My backpack was wired with a hidden microphone Saturday. Our entire conversation is on tape. I realize that's not playing fair, but then, you didn't exactly play fair with me in 1978. I didn't feel any sense of threat from you on Saturday, but then I have to entertain the possibility that you are a sociopath. But even sociopaths have a sense of self-preservation, so just know that the tape has been copied, and if I die in any way that is even the slightest bit suspicious, the tapes and affidavits will be forwarded to police and prosecutors in both Colorado and Alaska.

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