Rape victim thanks police for policy changes

Published February 6, 2007

VENICE - The young woman stood before a bank of microphones, her voice steady as she thanked police for changing a policy that required her to be jailed after she reported a rape.

"The Tampa police have made some changes to their policies," she said, reading from a prepared statement. "I am not familiar with all of the changes made, but I appreciate their willingness to try to rectify the situation, so that what happened to me will not happen to anyone else."

On Monday afternoon, the 21-year-old University of South Florida student stood in spitting rain outside her attorney's office and spoke publicly for the first time about the case.

The case captured national attention when police arrested the woman after she reported that a stranger pulled her behind a building and raped her after she left the Gasparilla parade.

When police learned there was a warrant for her arrest for failing to pay restitution for a juvenile crime, they took her to jail rather than dealing first with the rape case. Once behind bars, the woman says she was denied an important second dose of Plan B, the "morning-after pill," because a jail nurse said she had religious objections.

At Monday's news conference, attorney Vic Moore III of Venice said his client had no idea there was a warrant for her arrest, citing court records that show she did not receive a court summons. Moore has said repeatedly that the woman already paid the restitution - $6,226.14 paid beginning in October 2003.

The fee stems from a juvenile arrest for grand theft auto and burglary.

The woman said she is still dealing with the aftermath of the attack and her jail time. She said she planned to take a break from her studies.