Reporter Once Plotted to Murder Man Who Raped Him at 7


Holthouse considered going to the police or sending letters to the man's relatives, but he worried his own parents would find out. So "obsessed" with stopping him, he devised a plan.

Holthouse said he stalked the man's suburban home, learning his daily patterns. He decided the murder would take place at an isolated baseball field after he stalked him on a late-night walk.

He wrote that he would shoot his assailant below the waist, watch him "writhe like a poisoned cockroach," then kick him in the stomach and shoot him three times in the head. Because he had never told anyone about the sexual assault, Holthouse reasoned, "there was nothing in recent history to connect me to him," and he would get away with the crime.

But in 2003, about 10 days after he returned from buying the gun in Arizona, Holthouse got a telephone call from his crying mother. In cleaning out his bedroom cabinets, she had found a diary from when he was 11 and read the horrific account of the rape.

Holthouse's mother sent an anonymous letter to the man's parents, telling them their son was a molester and to keep him away from children. She later called to tell them she never wanted to see them again.

Now that his secret was out, Holthouse called off the murder.

But in 2004, he sent two letters to his assailant asking for a face-to-face meeting or at least a phone call: "Remember me?"

"Simply ignoring this letter is not going to work," he wrote. "If I don't hear from you by Friday late afternoon, I'll start calling your house, and then knocking on your front door. I want to be perfectly clear here: I am not threatening you with any physical harm, and I am not hinting at blackmail. I don't want your blood or your money, just one uncomfortable conversation."

Holthouse had begun to write the story about the assault for the Westword and, by May, that piece was complete. But 48 hours from publication, the man called and agreed to a meeting, ultimately changing the ending.

The nervous confrontation was short, according to Holthouse's account in Westword. The alleged rapist apologized: "I've thought 100 times about contacting you in the last 20 years to tell you that, and I just never had the courage to pick up the phone. I'm sorry for the pain I've caused you and my parents and your parents."

After that, the bogeyman seemed diminished.

Holthouse said the man told him the alleged rape was only once and never to another child, and he had since told his wife and parents.

"I doubt that is true," Holthouse said. "He tried to repeat the crime against me for the next two years of my childhood. He would have assaulted me again, given the opportunity -- I believe that. I think as a society, we turn rapists into monsters and he had turned into a monster in my mind. Doing that is a risk because most rapists lead normal lives."

When the story appeared in print, the alleged assailant retained legal counsel and did not refute Holthouse's telling of events, according to the Associated Press.

The Alaska lawyer for the man Holthouse alleged raped him did not immediately return a call from

After the story was aired by "This American Life," director Potter tracked Holthouse down.

"He liked that the story was being told on stage, with the ability to transform time and space easily," said Potter.

In adapting the story, the director said he was inspired by the Laramie Project, a play that chronicles a year in the Wyoming town after Matthew Shepherd was beaten and left to die on a fence for being gay. He plans to have question-and-answer sessions after each performance and provide an avenue for victims to seek help.

RAINN hopes to collaborate with producers to raise awareness and help survivors talk about recovery.

"We know this is going to move and affect and be a very important story for many people, including countless victims who will be hearing that there is hope," said Potter.

As for Holthouse, now married with a 2-year-old son, he is reflective about the courage he mustered to write his story, now a play-in-the-making.

"I was expecting this sort of lightning-bolt catharsis," he said. "I thought I'd suddenly feel a lot better. That didn't happen. Since then, I've realized that, at least for me, there's no such thing as getting over it. All I can do is get better with it."

Victims of sexual abuse can get help by going to the RAINN online hotline.

Go to Stalking the Bogeyman to learn more about the project.

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