A Washington State woman who police charged with filing a false rape report has been vindicated by chilling photos of her ordeal found on an accused serial rapist's camera, law-enforcement officials say.
Marc O'Leary, 32, is currently being held in Jefferson County jail in Colorado on a $5 million cash bond and has been charged with 25 felony counts including rape, burglary and stalking in connection with two rapes in Golden and Westminster, Colo., and an attempted rape in Lakewood, Colo.
None of the victims saw the face of their attacker, who wore a black mask, but one victim did see a birthmark on his leg.
In the Golden attack, which lasted for four hours, O'Leary threatened the victim with a silver and black gun and said he would shoot her if she screamed, according to the arrest affidavit. He tied her up and took photographs after forcing her to wear thigh-high stockings and high heels, the affidavit said.
Detectives testified this week that when they raided O'Leary's home in Lakewood, a Denver suburb, they took a memory card from his camera that showed more than a hundred photos of his sex-assault victims. They identified one of the photos as being of a woman in Lynnwood, Wash., who was 18 when she reported a rape in 2008.
Cops didn't believe her story, and she had to pay a $500 fine for making a false charge. O'Leary lived in nearby Mountlake Terrace, Wash., from 2006 to 2009, police say.
The case has now been reopened, and the Washington victim has had her court costs reimbursed and her record expunged. "She was in fact the victim of a rape," said Cmdr. Steve Rider of the Lynnwood Police Department. "We believe strongly there is a link and Marc O'Leary perpetrated the crime here."
He said the investigators who worked the case three years ago "feel horrible about the outcome" but "evidentiary factors" at the time made their conclusions reasonable.
The identities of the women were not released because they were victims of sexual assaults.
Pam Russell, a spokeswoman for the Jefferson County district attorney, said she couldn't yet reveal the details of how authorities realized the woman in some of the pictures was linked to the Washington case. "There's some great police work that went on," she said.
The case has been "terrifying" for the suburban Denver area, which has relatively little violent crime, she said.
The investigation zeroed in on O'Leary, she said, after police noted similarities in the assault in Golden, committed in January, and the earlier rape report in Westminster in August 2010--including the assailant insisting that the victim shower after the attack and his taking her bedsheets with him when he left, according to the affidavit.
The July 2010 attempted assault — in which the woman targeted was able to jump out a window to flee from her would-be attacker, suffering broken ribs and other injuries — also followed the pattern, prosecutors say.
O'Leary, who is 6-foot-1 and weighs 220 pounds, was arrested in February and will be arraigned on May 16.
As for the victim in Lynnwood, Rider said it has been difficult for her to relive both the rape and the failure of investigators to believe her. But now, he said, "her healing process can begin, and she can get justice."