Everyone who worked on Escaping Fed did so knowing that this was an important story that needed to be told. It needed to be told, as it should never be so difficult to get the help you need from law enforcement officers, when one of the "Brotherhood" is your offender.
That said, I have learned many lessons along this journey. The hardest ones of all came from police rejections and the trial, itself. As the film tells of how difficult it is to get help from police when an LEO is the perpetrator, it is time to reflect on the realities of trial.
Below are the [unfortunate] truths of taking a cop to trial:
The defense will use fake evidence.
An LEO who commits criminal acts will use fake evidence in court. You will know it is fake and he will know you know it is fake. But good luck being heard on that.
Fake evidence used against the prosecution [me] in my case included:
- An "invitation" to a party for the week before the event actually took place on the night of my rape. I believe the earlier event date was rescheduled because the party throwing couple were having clear issues (the hostess was crying and ranting about her absentee "birthday boy" boyfriend when we arrived). Nonetheless, the defense tried to base their case on this false invitation.
- Emails I have never seen before, doubt were addressed to the defendant and - frankly - I question if they came from me, at all. Conveniently, these were supposedly sent from an email account that was shut down when I met the defendant. He clung to these messages like a life raft, yet I was never shown a single one. Why? Pretty sure they are fake. Pretty sure the dates do not line up with the actual timeline of knowing him, even.
- Defense [very false] claims that I was into "bondage." Nothing could be farther from reality. I will not, have not ever and would never allow anyone to restrict my movement. I will never and have never allowed anyone to physically harm me or inflict pain upon me. Does the defense even know what "bondage" is??? It was a convenient claim for a rape charge and a person using their hands to restrict your movement and breathing, simulating crushing your neck as a threat against your life, if you do not do "as told." But the fact that the court seemed to buy into this with zero evidence was astounding. I should have fought to the death with Fed. It would have been easier than court...and the defense was so curious as to why I chose instead to try to respect the law and its processes. I have to side with the defense on that curiosity now. Being the defendant is far easier in Waukesha, it seems.
- Blackmail photos. A dirty cop who knows he is a dirty cop and has had issues with police complaints against him in the past trumps up evidence. With me, it was "blackmail photos" that I knew were taken for that explicit purpose. More on these, later in this text.
- Another type of "false evidence" that I told the prosecution and investigators about starting in 2014 and leading up to this case were false emails. Fed's favorite thing to say upon leaving my presence at any time was, "Send me a NICE email. Send me a NICE email." I even have text messages from him saying this. So what do you do, when threatened on a daily basis by someone who scares you? You send nice emails. I tried to be flowery and even "over the top" in many of these correspondences, as I knew they were more of his blackmail/insurance fodder. I cannot be sure of the full extent of the role of such emails in his defense, as the prosecution had me leave the state after I testified. I did not get to attend trial as promised.
Factual events will be manipulated into falsehoods.
The offender kept screaming at me after the rape (on an ongoing basis) that I was "split personality," as I would verbally lash out at him by calling him a rapist and other terms related to the offenses he was committing against me. As I was seeing a therapist to deal with the rape trauma (a psychologist, not a psychiatrist), I trusted this particular therapist to help me figure out how to get away from Fed. So I devised a plan to get Fed into the therapy office for a quick evaluation. But to do so, I had to get Fed excited about the prospect of being there. The only way to do that was to tell him he would get to talk badly about me. So I told Fed that I was being evaluated for having a "split personality" (not a legitimate term for a dissociative disorder and something a psychiatrist should treat, not a psychologist). Fed was thrilled by this. He showed up and showed his true colors. The therapist watched him and told me, "This guy is a sociopath. He is going to kill you. He is going to murder you. Do you hear me? He is going to MURDER you."
Still, in trial, Fed clung to this false "diagnosis" of "split personality" as fact. No therapist testified, as it was not true. No one stood with him on this, as it was a clear ruse that the investigators knew about since November 2014.
But did the judge believe him? Possibly. She gave him more levity than one would expect, frankly.
Expect for the offender to use blackmail materials.
I can imagine that most criminal LEOs form their own defense well in advance of a "case," by gathering blackmail evidence.
Fed did this. He did it from day one, starting with taking down my license plate info the first day I met him. He was looking for negative facts.
The blackmail photos Fed used throughout the trial and to his sentencing statement were of me in a compromising position, focusing on my face. I knew the purpose of these photos as he was taking them. But I had to make a choice: 1) Oblige for safety and peace to flee and have a chance of him leaving me alone; or, 2) Fight him on it and risk getting hurt or "arrested," as he always threatened.
I chose the former, actually asking myself in my head at the time whether my son would understand and be okay with the images. I decided it was safer to let Fed take the images.
On this, I have never, EVER let a man take a compromising photo of me. EVER. I have worked in digital marketing and tech since the early 1990s. I am far from a fool. I know the life expectancy of such images on the web. I defy anyone to find such images of me from ever before or since.
Yes -- even blackmail evidence will stand in court. It is what it is. If you are in trial against a cop, you are alive to experience the embarrassment, so just accept it. A little shame is an acceptable trade for living and breathing another day.
This said, tell police or other investigators immediately upon getting help that the person holds such blackmail evidence. I told the investigators and prosecutors...but the prosecutors did not speak up in trial. It is what it is. If the judge cannot see through this, they will when the next person is hurt and the same kind of evidence comes out. Since Fed won a case for a restraining order against him in 2015 using this method, I was at least the second woman to suffer his blackmail. I am quite sure more of the "double digits" of women did not come forward for the very same reasons.
Your temporary actions that kept you safe and alive will appear illogical and even "crazy."
As with fake evidence, lies and blackmail materials, you are likely to experience intense scrutiny for your words, behaviors and actions. It seems that outside people cannot grasp what a human will do on a daily basis to stay alive. Can the untraumatized human brain not handle the darkness others experience? Is it easier to not see between the lines formed by the defense?
If you are taking a case against a cop, ask yourself this: How many women(/men) have died in this process before? More die than get to prosecution, it seems. Why? Because people cannot see the truth.
All I can say about this is, you are alive. You did whatever it took. You are alive. You are not one of the "in memoriam" pages or cases listed at the link above. Screw anyone who cannot see through the fog of survival. Would they get through the same mess unscathed? Well, according to statistics in my case, only 0.7% of women ever get a conviction against a non-LEO. Just imagine the odds against a LEO. Accept the branding of "crazy" and stand proud at being large in a very tiny statistic.
The defense will use childish means to assassinate your character.
It is amazing one even must make this point. But it is truth: The defense will try to make you look like a bad person through ridiculous antics.
For me, one such antic was the defense claiming I "laughed at him" [the defense attorney] in court. Who would EVER laugh in court, particularly in light of the fear associated with such as case? The defense is wildly exaggerating the fact that before my testimony really began, I gave the prosecutor a glance of, "I can do this." The corners of my mouth upturned a little in a half grimace, half smile of reassurance. Truth is, I felt like throwing up. But the defense turned this into "laughing at him." It was a repeated theme, even at sentencing. Again, it is a type of lie designed to protect the guilty. Just breathe through it and consider the source. Surely juries and judges are not so dense as to believe such antics. In fact, witnessing such can help a jury see the truth.
Another antic was the defense repeatedly calling me, "Ms. SOMS," instead of my name, "Ms. Toms." The judge stopped him on this antic.
Finally, let's get to another type of character assasination: Using the press to break you down (the second rape) before you ever get to a hearing. The defense boldly claimed in the press that all of Fed's victims were "incredibly drunk." First, who would expect anything less of a "defense attorney" who smeared his own child's mother in the press? There is no moral high road, here.
Second, I do not drink like that and have not since I was 23 years old. I worked in nightclub promotions for the military at age 23 and saw so many disgustingly drunk people that I developed such disdain for the mere smell of drunkenness. But, this was a repeated theme throughout the case. Did the judge believe it? Well, she sure brought it up in her closing statements.
These are truly first-grade level behaviors. Do they ever work to do anything but make the defense look desperate? One has to wonder. Against a "cop" on a rape case? Very possibly. Be ready for it, if an LEO is your offender.
There will be credibility bias.
He/she was a cop or still is one. You never were. The offender thereby automatically receives a bit more benefit of the doubt than you will receive. This is precisely why women do not call cops "in the moment" on cops. These empowered offenders try to run over you with their car, then the local police brand it "rough sex." Hello, Oconomowoc.
In my case, I told the truth. I know I did. But I am told by the judge that some things were not "credible." This was intensely painful at first, as how do you stand up against a trained cop or investigator and EVER look like you are telling the truth? But then, I talked to the federal investigator in my case and considered the "credibility bias" that is inherent. As with other issues, it is what it is. Just do your best. Remember the offender will prove you right and anyone siding with them wrong when they reoffend. All things eventually come out in the wash. [And, by the way, 5 years' supervised probation is a mighty, mighty long time for someone who can only "get it up" by raping to go without raping.]
And yet also, the court does not believe he came to Chesapeake, Virginia or Currituck County, North Carolina to terrorize me face-to-face. I am "not credible."
Finally, despite his badge holding status at the time and although he threatened to call the IRS on me literally as I was driving through Illinois to flee him in May 2014, the court did not believe it was "credible" that he called the IRS to investigate/audit me. But I was also told by investigators, "He did that to all of the women."
If you -- as I -- have witnesses or alleged victims who lie in court about their "cases," you will be grouped as a liar with them. You will even be branded a liar on your own. Gnash your teeth and get through it. In my situation, I was vocal about one of the victims from the start. I was considered the "bad guy" for this and the case went on, with my experience being back-up to her claims. When she was found to have lied and had to apologize to the court (I've been told), my case got pushed to the forefront. I was not prepared to carry this mess on my own, alone. None of this helped me appear credible in front of the judge. There was nothing I could do about any of it and knew little of the magnitude of the problem until the sentencing hearing. Moral of this story? Do not go to trial with co-witnesses you do not believe in, yourself. Go with your gut.
There will be palpable tension that leads to human errors.
Remember that you are the enemy after reporting the crimes committed by a cop. Fine then, be the enemy. But be a truthful one. Do what you have to do to survive and make it through trial. Expect to be spoken ill about, discredited, insulted and - truthfully - abused by the process. They do not call it the "second rape" for nothing.
Also expect that judges are human. They confuse facts, too. They make assumptions, too. In my case, one particularly bothersome thing was hearing an assumption made in terms of the federal agency investigator. Her supposed "conclusions" were discussed, when she was never called to testify, never wrote a particular incidence into her investigation report (thus it was not in evidence) and was never asked for an opinion. Hearing she did not agree or believe in something was difficult, especially knowing the assumption was incorrect.
Also, the humanity is a factor when a judge confuses one fact or incidence with another. For me, this comes into play with Fed coming down to the Chesapeake area when he was brought into Washington, DC for his federal interrogation. He lied to the courts and said he had never been to Chesapeake. He was there and although I did not know he was in town for his interrogation, he was physically in Virginia and standing in front of me. The judge confused this with the car chase Fed executed in August 2016. That occurred in North Carolina.
I was called "not credible" on these appearances because the two were morphed into one by the human person on the bench, Fed was asked if it happened and he denied it (duh) and the prosecution did not enter any of this into evidence. The federal investigator was never questioned about credibility on these incidences. Admittedly, one has more merit at face value than the other, but that is lost to the sentencing now.
Denial is DEEP.
Current girlfriends, friends and family members of the offender will verbally lash out and abuse you, in the end. Accept that they are in deep denial and one day their eyes, too, will open. You do not have to be the one to open idealistic or denying eyes.
On this, I have learned you cannot carry the guilt of knowing people will be hurt by your offender in the future, such as after prison release. If your offender is a dirty cop, they are the worst kind of criminal. This is a criminal working overtime to hide in plain sight, one who is compelled to offend. They will reoffend and it will not be your fault. Far from it, as you went through all of the above darkness to bring them into the light.
Remember, you struggled to get to the point of having a case against a cop. When that cop commits again, the next victim will not suffer like you did.
All of this said, every investigator, person in the prosecution's office and involved party has been forthcoming about fear over what my offender will do to me and others "after." I have one year to get things in order and shape a life, before he is back on the streets.
For when something does happen, I say this to Wisconsin in advance: