Rape: Where It Happens



Posted on February 28, 2002 at 1:00 AM

Updated Friday, Oct 30 at 3:36 PM

It used to be called "a fate worse than death."

Rape happens often, but not the way most of us think.

Local sailor Jakota Moromisato has lived for two years, on two coasts, with the aftermath of what happened, while she was on liberty in Seattle. Exhausted from her first at sea experience, tipsy from four beers in the Pioneer Square district, she fell hard asleep in a hotel room with a shipmate she trusted. What she didn't know is that six more men crowded into the same room to crash. While she slept, one of them raped her while another videotaped the crime. "It's very difficult to say anything to anyone, because you're afraid they're not going to believe you," Moromisato said. Her superiors believed her, and the videotape convicted the two men.

In Hampton Roads, there are neighborhoods where rape happens more often. And more often than not, women are raped by men they know or are acquainted with.

In Norfolk, a 62-year-old Norfolk woman was raped by a police officer. Robert Leek is serving life plus 28 years after pleading guilty. During a goodwill visit, he unlocked her bedroom window, crawled in later and raped her with his gun in her mouth.

In Hampton, Anthony Sanders, on parole for rapes in New York and Georgia, raped and battered a 78-year-old woman in the Tide Mill neighborhood two different times. He also raped a woman at Mallory apartments.

Police call Sanders a serial rapist who preyed on strangers. But he's the exception in Hampton. Detective Kimberly Brighton says probably less than five percent of the cases they receive are stranger-on-stranger rapes. Most know their victims.

But, police say, many of the rapes didn't happen at all. "Most of what we have are acquaintance rapes, and half, if not 90-percent of those cases usually result in being a false report. It could be out of revenge. The man didn't call back the next day. A boyfriend or husband found out they slept with somebody else," said Brighton.

In Hampton, the worst area for rape reports is along LaSalle and Pembroke Avenues, Kecoughtan and Shell roads. 13News counted 36 reports over three years, many, police say, filed by women who tried to trade sex for drugs, but never got the drugs. Overall, Hampton had 138 reports of forcible rape since 1999, many of them legitimate.

In Newport News, rape reports run the length of the city. There've been 273 since 1999, only 53 of them were committed by strangers.

One difficulty in prosecuting rapes is that the victims are not always pristine. Sometimes they're prostitutes, sometimes they're drug abusers with criminal records and when they have to testify in front of juries, it's sometimes hard to get a sympathetic ear. "People do not want to believe she has the right to say no because of what her lifestyle is, and that is not the case. I'll say it a thousand times, everybody has the right to say no and the responsibility lies with the person who took advantage of that victim," said Det. Misty Mercer of the Newport News Police Dept.

Advocacy groups like "Response" sometimes butt heads with the police, though Laura Wikel admits that rape survivor stories aren't always complete. " ... I think elements of stories are false -- things they cover up to protect themselves. I believe the majority of people who report are telling the truth because it's so difficult to come forward and tell the truth," she said.