Madison Ald. Austin King, president of the Madison Common Council, has introduced a resolution calling on the city to formally apologize and make financial restitution to Patty, the Madison woman whose seven-year ordeal at the hands of the Madison Police Department and the city of Madison is the subject of my new book.
Patty, a legally blind small business owner, was raped by an armed intruder on Sept. 4, 1997. Police came to doubt her account, pressured her to recant, and had her charged with a crime for reporting that she was raped. The charges were eventually dropped, and Patty was vindicated with the identification of her assailant.
The resolution, which King introduced Tuesday night with six co-sponsors, notes that "the city of Madison has never apologized for the extremely harmful impact of these events on Patty, and public trust in our justice system has been tarnished by this inaction."
It expresses the city's "heartfelt apology and deepest regrets to Patty, who persevered against all odds after having been brutally assaulted?and then further victimized by the criminal justice system." And it calls on the city to pay Patty $35,000 from its contingency reserve.
The resolution also directs the city's insurer to no longer retain the law firm of Axley Brynelson. And it asks Madison Police Chief Noble Wray to draft a new policy to "eliminate the use of lies, coercion, deception, ruses, or other techniques designed to break down individuals who are reporting that they are victims of domestic violence or sexual assault, in all but the rarest of circumstances."
King, who has a long history of anti-sexual-assault activism, says he was moved to act by an excerpt from Cry Rape: The True Story of One Woman's Harrowing Quest for Justice. That excerpt, which appeared in the paper's Sept. 22 edition, recounted Patty's federal lawsuit and the conduct of the attorneys from Axley Brynelson hired to defend the city.
"Frankly, I was overwhelmed by it," says King, who calls the actions of the attorneys in deposing Patty "tantamount to torture."
According to King, Madison Mayor Dave Cieslewicz and Police Chief Noble Wray have expressed "comfort" with the resolution, although Wray would have preferred that the issue of a new MPD policy be handled separately. King kept it in "to document to the public that a lesson has been learned and that we are taking steps to avoid another tragedy like this."
A press conference on the resolution is set for 11 a.m. on Thursday, Oct. 5, in front of the City-County Bldg. Among the speakers: King, former Madison Police Capt. Cheri Maples, Kelly Anderson of the Rape Crisis Center, and Angela Rose of the group Promoting Awareness Victim Empowerment (PAVE).