A Fremont rape victim says Sandusky County and Fremont officials wronged her not only by failing to prosecute her attacker, but also by being crass and asking callous questions when she reported the alleged crime.
Christina Fegley, 38, is the latest person to add a voice to growing criticism aimed at the law enforcement and legal systems in Sandusky County.
“It was rape," Fegley said, recalling the attack. "It was wrong."
Fegley said a man she knew raped her in October 2009, after a night of drinking. When she later reported the crime to Fremont police, the investigating officer asked her questions about her sexual preferences, and also whether she could willingly withstand the type of sexual offenses the man allegedly committed against her.
In recorded interviews the Register obtained through a public records request, Fremont police officer Clayton Holskey is heard asking Fegley a multitude of questions, many in a manner that suggests he doubts what she's saying.
"Can you sit through anal sex?” Holskey asks her, and later: “If he's going to rape you, why would he wake up next to you?”
Fegley said the questions were demeaning.
Fremont police Chief Tim Wiersma declined to comment about the appropriateness of the officer's interrogation of Fegley. Holskey's personnel file with the police department shows he has no specific training for how to respond to sexual assault complaints.
"They made me feel like 'Why would I be reporting this?' They were not comforting, they were not caring, they made me feel even worse being there—like I was stupid for being there," Fegley told the Register.
Fegley has joined hundreds of people in signing an online petition at Change.org, "Stand Up for Justice and Accountability in Sandusky County Campaign," urging Ohio Gov. John Kasich to remove from office Sandusky County prosecutor Tom Stierwalt and Sandusky County sheriff Kyle Overmyer.
The petition alleges these elected officials failed to properly investigate and prosecute certain cases, including that of shooting victim Jacob Limberios; assault victim Craig Burdine; murder victim Isabel Cordle; and Fegley, a victim of rape.
Fegley was among the protesters last week at the grand jury hearings for Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine's investigation into the August 2007 jailhouse death of Craig Burdine. The family and its supporters fear DeWine intends to no-bill the grand jury by limiting the evidence it sees.
Fegley says she was wronged by the same officials who handled the Burdine and other cases families have complained about. They also made an issue of her sexuality, she said.
"He hurt me," Fegley said. "They made it sound like if I wasn't drinking, if I wasn't bisexual, if I wasn't dressed that way I wouldn't've gotten raped. Like it was my fault."
Wiersma said this week the Fegley case is closed.
— FADE TO BLACK
On Oct. 16, 2009, Fegley ended an on-again, off-again relationship with a boyfriend.
She said she reached out to the man's ex-girlfriend for advice, and went to the woman's North Park Avenue home to talk to her. They later agreed to go out drinking, and the woman's husband came along.
The trio and some others went to two Fremont bars before returning to the North Park Avenue home late that night.
Fegley told the Register she only remembers "blacking out."
“I remember the walk back from that bar, but then everything went black," she said. "No memories after that."
The woman and her husband allowed Fegley to stay the night.
Fegley said when she awoke the next morning, the woman's husband was lying next to her on the mattress. Fegley was wearing his T-shirt.
Fegley said she knew something was wrong, so she had a friend pick her up.
She was “torn up” that day, Fegley said — her anus and vagina were excruciatingly sore. She was also allergic to latex, and she suspected her vagina was swollen from an allergic reaction. She told the Register she would never use a latex condom because of her body's reaction to them.
She said she then went to her family doctor, who told her she may need rectal surgery. Fegley said her doctor urged her to report the incident. She said she was traumatized, however, and waited about 10 days before contacting police.
Wiersma declined to comment on whether or not investigators asked for Fegley's medical records from the doctor's visit.
— INTERVIEW OR INTERROGATION
When Fegley reached out to Fremont police on Oct. 27, 2009 — 11 days after the incident — she was met with a bizarre line of questioning.
Clayton Holskey, the investigating officer, recorded his interview with Fegley.
When Fegley said she suspected she was anally raped, Holskey asked her if she thought she could "sit through anal sex?”
When she provided details about the following morning — waking up next to the alleged attacker, and wearing his T-shirt — Holskey questions seemed to indicate he was skeptical of her account.
“If he's going to rape you, why would he wake up next to you?” Holskey asked.
And this: “He took off all your clothes and put you in a T-shirt afterwards? That doesn't happen too often."
Holskey is then heard asking Fegley about the origin of the hickeys on her neck, and also how often she drinks.
“People wonder why women don't come forward, and this is why,” Fegley told Holskey during the interview, her voice increasingly upset.
In Holskey's multiple-page report, the fourth sentence details Fegley's bisexuality. Fegley said she later questioned the necessity of the invasive questions, and she still wonders what her sexuality had to do with getting raped.
— TELLING THE WIFE
Holskey also interviewed the alleged rapist and his wife. They responded to questions about that night, but the answers they provided don't seem to match.
The man said his wife gave him permission to sleep with Fegley, while the wife said she knew nothing about it.
The alleged rapist said he had sex with Fegley, insisting it was consensual.
His wife, however, said Fegley was slipping “in and out of it” after they returned home from the bar.
“There's a chance (Fegley) got a second wind, I don't know,” the wife told investigators.
If she did, police never said.
The officer goes on to ask about the wife's sexual relationship with her husband, including oral and anal sex preferences.
Despite the difficult start, Fegley came to believe the case was moving forward and she would see justice. She stuck with it, she said, and both the detective and a victim's advocate told her they believed her.
“He went out and talked to the suspect a couple of times, then one night he called me and said, 'You know, I believe you. I want you to know I believe you,'" Fegley said.
But later he pressured her to retract what she'd said about being raped.
“I don't know why they kept trying to get me to say I lied," she said.
When it came time to present the case to a grand jury, Fegley waited outside the courtroom, anticipating an indictment.
— O'CONNELL'S BACK
“We were sitting there for so long and then Sean O'Connell comes walking out,” Fegley said, referring to then Fremont police detective. "When he walked out my world stopped."
She was flummoxed. The man who had just testified at a grand jury hearing for her case was someone she had never spoken to about it at all, Fegley said.
“He had nothing to do with this investigation at all. It was random,” Fegley said. “(Holskey) never showed up at the grand jury courtroom.”
Two people — her victim's advocate and another person with reason to know — told Fegley the man who raped her was an informant for O'Connell.
“The crime victim advocate said (O'Connell) wasn't going to have his snitch go to jail,” Fegley said. “I knew everything I was going through was for nothing."
"I said (to the advocate) 'No, that's wrong. He raped me.' She said 'Drop it, don't put yourself through this anymore. Let it go.' I cussed and screamed at her. I didn't want to believe that a man could rape me and get away with it," Fegley said.
Later, she encountered one of the jurors.
“She was crying too. She looked sorry for me,” Fegley said.
Her case was not going to be prosecuted, and she was left to deal with the fallout.
And that was the last Fegley heard.
"The legal system didn't protect me. I've just tried to block all of it out, but I should not be made to feel this way," Fegley said.
In October it will be five years since she was raped, she said, but it doesn't fade with time.
"I have to drive by that house every day," she said.
O'Connell declined comment.