October 25, 2017 |
BY NATASHA ALEXENKO
Posted Wednesday, October 25, 2017, 5:00 AM
In 1993, I was raped at gunpoint by a stranger. I felt violated and ashamed of what happened. But after escaping to my apartment, my roommate convinced me to go to the hospital to undergo a rape kit exam.
At the time, DNA collection was in its infancy, but I understood that it was our best chance at catching the man who did this to me. Once all the evidence had been collected from my body, I waited for news that my perpetrator had been found.
I waited and waited, and for a long time, justicenever came. Fourteen years later, I testified at trial against the man who raped me. Victor Rondon ultimately was convicted of all eight counts against him.
In the years before they had found Rondon, I had resigned myself to the fact that the man who raped me would never be found. But the thought that he was still out there harming others plagued me. Now, he is off the street and in jail for a long time.
During all the years that I waited, New York City tackled its rape kit backlog, testing 17,000 rape kits. That represented 17,000 survivors like me who had come forward looking for justice.
While the rape kit backlog had been eliminated in New York City under former Manhattan District Attorney Robert Morgenthau, his successor, Cy Vance, picked up the mantle and has gone even further to bring justice to sex assault victims.
Vance is now in the spotlight, with critics claiming he did too little to pursue a sex assault allegation against Harvey Weinstein. I think more attention ought to be paid to his advocacy on behalf of sex-crimes victims. It is little understood, and I consider it downright heroic.