Cry Rape by Bill Lueders is a real-life story of Patty, a 38 years old visually impaired mother, who suffers at the hand of our criminal justice system. It is an in-depth analysis of a series of pathos and miseries that depicts a detailed struggle of a heroic woman and her legal battle against the criminal justice system that not only deprived her of legal panacea to her dilemmas but accused her of fabricating stories. Her agony of sexual assault was further aggravated by her persecution by the law-enforcement agency itself. It is a story that portrays how a cop with his pre-conceived notions, tries to prove a rape victim an imposter.
Bill Lueders has uncovered the inability of our criminal justice to provide justice to victims and the pernicious practice to oppress the victims to withdraw their cases. The story sets in September 1997 in Madison, Wisconsin where Patty was raped in her apartment at a knifepoint. The rape episode is only the beginning to a seven-year long battle where Patty wanted to get the “justice denied”. After being raped she approached the local police department for justice who instead doubted her stories and alleged her of manufacturing story.
The reason for this doubt was her physical impairment, partial blindness. She was unable to provide a hint for her assailant. Bill Lueders has successfully amalgamated the literary devices in the story to heighten the tension. He juxtaposes real situation with the one created by the cops to generate irony. For example, although Patty got a medical verification of “sexual contact” but police was unable to take this as “sexual assault” as Patty did not “act like a rape victims”. This statement of a cop, Tom Woodmansee, seems ridiculous as one need to act like a victim to be recognized as a victim.
Later on, in the interrogation cell, she was pressurized to withdraw her charges to which she refused. Ironically, she herself was charged with fraudulent efforts to cause obstruction to police department. Use of these literary techniques makes the story interesting. As the story moves, the charges against Patty were dropped but she suffers from mental and psychological torment of policemen, her community and media. All these obstacles did not force her to abstain from embarking on the struggle to get the justice. Bill Leuder further exposes the underlying theme of incapibilities and inherent flaws in our criminal justice system.
He narrates that it is the police department, that was created to provide solace to the people, hinders Patty’s efforts to pursue justice. Patty suffers at every juncture due to the prejudice (that was first established by the first cop and every other law-enforcing agent believes in that. Lueders further manifest the tendency that how law-enforcing institutes defend their own personnel) He further reinforces the idea by providing an insight into his own struggle for access to police records related Patty’s case, official analysis of crime scenes, court transcripts and medical reports.
Finally, he depicts that DNA evidence helped Patty to come out of the seven-year long ordeal and capacitated the criminal justice system to convict the rapists. But he further asserts that it was high incompetence of entire criminal justice system including lawyers, attorneys and judges that they thought this bio-technological solution so late. Finally, Deputy District Attorney Judy Schwaemle, a lawyer for Patty prevails as the rapist was recognized with the help of FBI DNA data. Patty receives various apologies including Lt.
Cheri Maples who was a hardliner in Patty’s case. Bill Lueders use the form of the novel to convey certain subtle message as plain narration of these facts would minimize their effects. For example, he put forward through the conversation of various characters in Cry Rape that majority of the rape victims suffer from the same cold initial response of the policemen and prefer to abandon the thought of seeking justice. The aura of pessimism prevails over the whole story but as the plot moves, we explore certain optimistic factors. Investigative journalism is one such factor.
It further implies that in the absence of a proper official check and balance system, it is the responsibility of the civil society and its various representative forms (journalism is one of them) to come ahead and help the victim. Bill Lueders, an investigative reporter and an essential part of civil society, make this positive difference and side with patty in hour of trial. The ultimate purpose of Bill Lueders in writing this story is not the depiction of absolute evilness of policemen, lawyers or judges but his primary motive remains to expose the flaws in our criminal justice system.
In the preface of the book, he made it clear that “Indeed, one of the most remarkable aspects of this story is that these individuals did not set out with any ill intent. On the contrary, they were, I believe, committed to doing what they thought was right. ” Their pre-conceived notions and belief in their methodology are major hindrances in their way and these two factors compel them to recognize their errors. Bill Lueders concludes at the end of the story that, “The truest mark of corruption is not that it makes mistakes but that it is so reluctant to admit them.
” Overall, Lueders has beautifully illustrated the theme through the use of dialogues and other literary devices. It is not a plain fact narration but has a proper conflict that captivates the reader throughout the story. Leuder reveals many official lapses but he also believes in the human frailty, its biases and its innate tendency i. e. unwillingness to admit mistakes. That’s the reason that Lueders does not abhor policemen but has a feeling of compassion for them at the end of story.
Patty comes out as an epitome of larger than life character. I recommend this book to other on the ground that beside a real-life story about the struggles of a victim of rape to find justice, it has all the ingredients of a beautiful fiction. It has many themes, a flowing plot, strong characterization, psychological realism i. e. interpretation of the motives of characters etc. an all this provides a distinctive detective novel experience. The vicissitudes and mysterious twists enthrall the readers.
Furthermore, reading of this book will enable them to understand the inherent failings in our criminal justice system and the indifferent attitudes of our protectors i. e. law-enforcing personnel. It will enable them to have a high regard for the true heroes of American community instead of praising and admiring the fake heroes presented as extra-ordinary humans in fictions and movies. Above all, this book is also interesting if read without realizing the higher objective and gives intellectual pleasures to its readers. Reference Lueders, Bill. (2006). Cry Rape. University of Wisconsin Press.