by: Natasha Chen Updated:LYNNWOOD, Wash. —
The city of Lynnwood will pay $150,000 in a settlement with a rape victim, after Lynnwood police claimed she lied about the attack in 2008.
The rapist, Marc O’Leary, is currently serving a 327 1/2-year sentence in Colorado for raping multiple women, including the Lynnwood woman and a Kirkland woman.
The victim, now 23, is living out of state and engaged to be married, according to her attorneys.
“I give our client a tremendous amount of credit,” said H. Richmond Fisher, one of her attorneys. “She's excited, because now she can go on in a whole new wonderful chapter of her life. She has a fiancé and she's looking forward to a fabulous life. She's been inspiring to me.”
In August 2008, the victim, identified only as D.M., was in transitional housing after being in foster homes. She was 18 at the time.
A stranger, later known to be O’Leary, entered her Lynnwood apartment, “threatened plaintiff D.M. with a butcher knife, bound her wrists with a shoe string he had removed from her shoes, stuffed a pair of underwear in her mouth as a gag, blindfolded her, and took photographs of her,” according to the lawsuit she filed.
“The detectives took pictures of the binding marks. They themselves took those pictures. The detectives saw the scene,” said Yvonne Ward, one of the victim’s attorneys.
D.M. was also taken to the emergency room at Providence Hospital in Everett, where a doctor made notes of rape trauma.
Yet, after conversations with the victim’s stepmother, her friend, and anonymous caller, police began to have doubts.
A police narrative from Detective Jerry Rittgarn states, “I talked with Sgt. (Jeff) Mason concerning his follow-up case. He told me that based on subsequent interviews and inconsistencies with D.M., her foster mother, and her friend…who [sic] she had talked with on the phone prior to the report, he believed and others believed that D.M. had made up the story.”
D.M. confessed to making up the incident, which her attorneys said was a result of a police interrogation. She was charged with filing a false report and went through court-ordered counseling for lying to police.
“You don't just go with some family member who was not even a witness. You do a full investigation. And even if you decide there's not enough evidence to convict, you don't go after an alleged rape victim,” Ward said.
The lawsuit also states that the Cocoon House, a place for at-risk youth, threatened D.M. with loss of housing benefits and made her tell other program participants that she lied.
In 2011, O’Leary was caught and found with a photograph of D.M.’s ID card.
One of the officers named in the lawsuit, Mason, still works for Lynnwood police.
The other, Detective Jerry Rittgarn, left the department of his own accord. His LinkedIn page indicates he works for a private investigation firm in San Diego.
“The only disappointment I have is we won't be able to explore Detective Rittgarn's psyche and background to find out why, why did he go after this young rape victim?” Ward said.