The mayor was absent from the Cleveland Heights council chamber, but I am positive she will hear about the tense ten minutes that started the meeting.
“I am a rape victim,” said a woman in a pink sweater. She stared down the council, hand on her hip. “I was raped on May 16. What I have gone through with your detectives has been very difficult.”
She looked down at her notes and spoke haltingly. “Sixty-six percent of rapes are not reported. Twenty-three percent do not report because they do not trust their police to believe them.”
“I was told by your detective to ‘be patient,’ as though I was hungry and needed a Snickers,” she continued angrily, bracing herself on the podium. “I identified the rapist that night when five patrol officers showed up and looked at me like a circus exhibit but did nothing. The rapist was my downstairs neighbor.”
Council members sat frozen at their desks as she reached an ominous conclusion. “To be honest, if I could go back I would not have reported it. What I would have done was gotten a video surveillance system and waited for him to do it again. I would have been armed as I am now. We would have been investigating murder by self-defense instead of rape.”
She threw up her hands and inhaled deeply. “Do you have any questions for me?”
Council Member Carol Roe leaned forward. “I don’t have a question. I just want to say, I am really sorry for your pain. I am sure that I speak for my fellow council people–”
“Show me by actions, please,” the woman interrupted. “I go to counseling every Wednesday night. Those are the hardest frickin’ nights of my life. How can we proceed?”
“Well,” Vice Mayor Jason Stein looked to his left helplessly, “I’ll refer to Public Health and Safety Committee to review policies and procedures….”
The city manager gently broke in. The chief, she said, “is here to have that conversation with you.”
“I need to get this on public record as well,” retorted the commenter. “Change the attitude so that people will trust you and will want to come forward without feeling revictimized through you.”
“We are sorry,” the vice mayor reassured her. Then he admitted, “all of us are very moved right now and honestly, we don’t know what to say. But we’re gonna review our policy.”
As the woman sat down, another commenter took her place and stood open-mouthed for a brief moment. “I find myself a bit emotional from hearing the story. We all know that there are much bigger, more important things going on in other people’s lives.”
She slapped the podium to compose herself. “I wish that woman the best of luck,” she sighed, before announcing the Coventry School open house this Friday.
Given the time of month, public safety made one more cameo as Council Member Melissa Yasinow looked directly into the camera and performed the yearly ritual of council members all across America: a plea for people to not be dumb.
“Fireworks are a ton of fun, but unfortunately, you see an increase in emergency services for people who think these explosives are indeed toys. They are not!”
Final thoughts: I give 10 out of 10 stars to everyone for their tact. Let’s get this case closed, folks.