A Victim Recovers Ever So Slowly

Faith, Friends--but Not The Legal System--help Her Pull Through

October 06, 1991|By Kris Antonelli | Kris Antonelli,Staff writer

"I was more a prisoner than the man who was jailed for raping me."


Despite feeling nervous and scared, Lorraine was "psyched up" forthe meeting she hoped would close a painful chapter in her life.

She rushed home Sept. 6 to change her clothes and get to Annapolis by1 p.m. Half an hour later, she would be face to face with the man who, just over a year ago, raped her.

But when she got home, a flashing light on the answering machine caught her attention.

"Lorraine, this is Sarah Ceteras from victim's assistance. The sentencing has been postponed. . . ."

Judge Raymond G. Thieme Jr., who was scheduled to sentence Rodney Lorenzo Smith, had a family emergency -- his son had been shot accidentally the night before. It was the second time the sentencing had been put off. She had no desire to try for a third time.

"They can carry on without me," she said. "I don't care anymore."

On Monday, Smith, out on parole for an armed robbery conviction, was sentenced to 25 years in prison. Lorraine was not in the courtroom.

But just a few months ago, Lorraine had a different attitude. Since Smith had entered a Alford plea, which does not admit guilt but only that there is enough evidence to convict, she never had to testify or attend a hearing.

She wanted to be at the sentencing, to see for herself that the man who had dragged her into the bushesnear her home and raped her was really headed to prison.

"It's pretty typical for victims to go through several cycles of reactions," Ceteras said. "The first time it was postponed, she was very angry and she was surprised at her reaction. Maybe she wasn't over it as muchas she thought she was."

"Somebody up there might be trying to tell me something," Lorraine said after the Sept. 6 postponement. "How would I really feel if I saw him again?"


Lorraine's ordeal began at about 6:30 p.m. Aug. 24, 1990. She was walking her dog outsidethe Pinewood Senior Citizens' complex in Glen Burnie. She began talking with a man who suddenly grabbed her, dragged her into some nearbywoods and raped her before running away.

Two older women walking by heard her screams.

"They told me not to move, but I had to," Lorraine recalled. "I managed to sort of duck-walk and get out of the woods."

An ambulance took her to North Arundel Hospital. A counselor from the county rape crisis center arrived a short time later.

"She held my hand during the entire rape exam," Lorraine said. "She came into the shower with me and washed my back. She was fully clothed,but because it was a huge walk-in shower, she got all wet. She washed my hair and everything. She was great."

Lorraine spent the nightat North Arundel. "The next morning, I didn't realize where I was," she said. "I was terrified because I had no immediate memory of why Iwas there."

Lorraine spent the next five days in her bed, friendsfiling in and out of the room.

"I have no real memory of that now," she says. "I was in shock."

Out of the hospital, Lorraine optedto stay with friends instead of returning to her apartment. Althoughthey were a comfort to her, she felt immobilized.

Lorraine didn'tunderstand why God had let her lose her most prized possession -- her independence. A devout Catholic, she felt she had been betrayed by her faith.

"I was having a real faith crisis," she said.

Beforethe attack, Lorraine's days were filled with activities: Meals on Wheels, pinochle games with friends, shopping and visiting. She had herown car and drove herself everywhere.

But that life was wiped away in a matter of minutes. Holed up in a little room at her friends' home, she became a zombie, staring off into space. She couldn't get the attack out of her mind.

Dragging herself out of bed to go to Mass was a problem. She took pills to help her slip into what wasn't always welcome sleep.

"I was not only attacked and raped once, but over and over again in my dreams," she says.

She couldn't eat. "He had a particular odor and I could smell it afterwards. It was in my sinuses and even when I ate, I could smell it."

Last fall, Lorraine took her first real trip since the attack, spending the weekend at another friend's house in St. Michael's.

"At first I said I couldn'tdo it," she recalled. "What if something happened to me there?"

But the weekend away helped her relax. "It was the first time I didn'thave to take a sleeping pill."

Back in a Glen Burnie restaurant, Lorraine saw two men sitting in a nearby booth -- and flashed back tothat August evening.

"I had a panic attack and started to shake,"she said. "I went outside and threw up. I got in the car and was hysterical. That was a setback for me and I didn't go out of the house for another month."

During the Christmas Eve service at her church,Lorraine faced a turning point. "I knelt at the back of the church and I really felt at peace," she said. "I couldn't go to sleep that night."

Gradually, things began to change. She started going out with the friends she was living with.

One night a few months later, Lorraine found herself at a friend's house playing pinochle. The hour was growing late and her friend asked her to stay for dinner.

"I didn't want to, because that would mean that I would get home after dark," she said. "But then I thought, 'So what?' And it was the first time I drove home in the dark."

A new job, religious counseling andrenewed interest in her daily activities have helped bring back her independence, her sense of control over her own life.

"God didn't let this happen to me," she says, grabbing the key chain that also holds a Mace can. "I was just in the wrong place at the wrong time."

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