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Victim recalls rapist's face for police artist

The woman was jailed, delaying the sketch.

By ABBIE VANSICKLE
Published February 1, 2007


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Police artist's sketch of the rapist.


TAMPA - She finally got a look at her attacker's face.

Four days after she reported being raped at Gasparilla, the 21-year-old woman sat down with a police sketch artist to recreate the suspect's image.

Police hope the sketch, released Wednesday evening, will jog someone's memory.

"The area would have been packed with people at that time, just before the parade," said police spokeswoman Laura McElroy. "We've not been able to find one witness yet."

Police are also asking people who took photos in the area of Howard and Swann avenues Saturday to check their pictures to see if they spot a suspect.

The woman, whose name is being withheld, reported the rape about 3:30 p.m. Saturday

On the way to investigate, police learned there was a warrant for her arrest and took her to jail. Once there, a nurse refused to give the woman the important second dose of Plan B, the so-called morning-after pill because of religious objections, according to the woman's attorney, Vic Moore of Venice.

Jennifer D'Angelo, the nurse's attorney, disputes that claim, saying the nurse didn't have instructions to give the woman the pill.

The handling of the incident prompted changes in the Tampa police policy.

Planned Parenthood has asked Gov. Charlie Crist to investigate law enforcement's handling of the case and asked the governor to create statewide protocols about emergency birth control for rape victims.

The governor could not be reached Wednesday about the request.

The woman's arrest delayed getting a sketch of the attacker, and she was not able to pinpoint for officers where the crime occurred.

The woman told police she had been walking north on Howard Avenue when a man grabbed her arm, pulled her behind a building and raped her.

After the attack, she continued walking north several blocks to her car, which was parked at the University of Tampa. She then called police.

Her reaction was normal for a rape victim, said Jennifer Dritt, executive director for the Florida Council Against Sexual Violence.

"People are often shocked that this happened, they can't believe that it happened," Dritt said. "It would make perfect sense that she wouldn't go into any businesses."

Police went back to the crime scene Sunday, McElroy said, but they went without the victim because she was still in jail. They found no evidence, McElroy said.

Police should have treated the woman as a victim first, not as a criminal, Dritt said.

"That's not uncommon, and we hear that all the time, that the approach by law enforcement is to treat them like criminals, that it's not victim friendly," Dritt said.

Abbie VanSickle can be reached at 226-3373 or vansickle@sptimes.com.

[Last modified February 1, 2007, 06:12:11]


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