For Years, Woman's Rape Went Basically Un-Investigated

Police didn't even test rape kit for a decade
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Nov 6, 2015 4:04 PM CST
For Years, Woman's Rape Went Basically Un-Investigated
In this Oct. 31, 2010, photo, Sgt. Emelda Blanco, left, and Detective Vernon Hayes, right, escort Jimmie Spratt into central lockup in New Orleans after Spratt was extradited from Tennessee.   (Michael DeMocker/ The Times-Picayune via AP)

Marie picked up the phone and dialed the number the detective gave her 10 days before, on the night she was raped at knifepoint outside a friend's house in New Orleans. It was the first of many calls Marie would make in an 18-year ordeal of shoddy police work and numbingly slow prosecution to track down and convict her attacker. "Just checking to see if there are any leads, if you've caught anyone," Marie recalls telling the detective. "Nothing's turned up yet," he responded. "Why don't you go on with your life?" "What about testing the DNA? The rape kit?" she asked. "We can't. There's no money for that," the detective said. The same rapist went on to attack at least six more women, including a 16-year-old raped three months after Marie.

For Marie, the trauma continued long after the assault and was compounded, she said, by the incompetence and callousness of the New Orleans Police Department. "I felt like I was a problem," the 60-year-old stockbroker said in an interview at her suburban New Orleans home. "They wanted me to just go away." Largely through her own persistence—dozens of phone calls pushing police and prosecutors over nearly 16 years—did police finally nab the suspect. About a decade after her attack, Marie got a sympathetic cold case detective to send in her rape kit for testing. It came back with a hit. The man who raped her was locked up in Tennessee. His name was Jimmie Spratt. More delays related to prosecution followed. Finally, with Spratt's release from prison in Tennessee approaching in 2010, Marie was invited to the district attorney's office for the first time. Spratt was finally convicted of raping her in 2012. The full story is worth a read. (More rape stories.)

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