Woman raped at gunpoint wins $1.5m payout from police

Police told Pittsburgh woman that she had fabricated her story

Topics: Rape, Police, Pittsburgh, Sexual assault, Sara Reedy,

Woman raped at gunpoint wins $1.5m payout from police (Credit: Shutterstock/mangostock)

Eight years ago, when Sara Reedy was 19-years-old, she was forced to give oral sex to a man as he pressed a gun against her temple in a gas station in Pittsburgh. The young woman was then taken to hospital, where police refused to believe her account and blamed her for the robbery at the gas station that her rapist had committed. She was arrested for theft and false reporting, was released on bail but lost her job.

Reedy’s attacker struck again one year later. He was caught and admitted to the assault and robbery for which Reedy had been blamed.

This year, according to the Guardian’s Observer, Reedy “won a marathon legal battle and a $1.5million settlement against the detective who turned her from victim into accused. The payment was agreed earlier this year, but can be revealed only now because of a non-disclosure clause that was part of the settlement.”

“I’m relieved that people will be able to see now that I was telling the truth,” Reedy, now 27, told the Observer.  “Although mine is an extreme case, I’m not the first – and I won’t be the last.”

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As the Observer noted, “Reedy’s victory has gone down in legal history. During her battle she testified in Congress, and this helped persuade the federal government this year to change the definition of rape to include forced oral sex and the rape of men.”

Police treatment of rape victims remaining a national problem. According to FBI statistics, police in many cities drop a high proportion of rape cases on the grounds that they are “unfounded” — Pittsburgh shelves 34 percent of cases in this way, while New Orleans police, the Observer noted, are under federal review for shelving 50 percent of sex attack cases as “non-criminal complaints.”

Natasha Lennard

Natasha Lennard is an assistant news editor at Salon, covering non-electoral politics, general news and rabble-rousing. Follow her on Twitter @natashalennard, email nlennard@salon.com.

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