Rape wasn’t a lie, Lynnwood police now say

  • By Eric Stevick and Diana Hefley Herald Writers
  • Wednesday, April 13, 2011 12:01am
  • Local NewsLynnwood

LYNNWOOD — Police now believe a woman they once accused of lying about a 2008 rape in a Lynnwood apartment.

Investigators then had such grave doubts about what they described as her ever-changing story, they charged her with false reporting. She wound up pleading guilty.

Now, three ye

ars later, Lynnwood police are trying to clear the woman’s record after a suspected serial rapist was arrested in Colorado.

They’ve also reopened their old rape investigation.

“We were wrong. Everybody feels terrible about it,” Lynnwood Police Chief Steve Jensen said Tuesday. “We take sexual assaults very seriously. Our investigators always get charged up to get the bad guys in these cases.

“We’re doing our best to make it right,” he said.

Lynnwood detectives think they have a good suspect in Marc P. O’Leary, 32. The former south Snohomish County man is jailed in Denver with his bail set at $5 million. Police say he is suspected of sexual attacks on four Denver-area women.

“I think we have a lot of strong evidence linking him to our case,” Lynnwood police Cmdr. Steve Rider said Tuesday.

Detectives in 2008 didn’t know about O’Leary. They interviewed the woman, then 18, several times and opened a rape investigation.

Her story changed and details appeared to be inconsistent, Jensen said. People who know the woman also spoke to detectives and expressed doubts about the woman’s story, Jensen said.

The woman was charged with false reporting. She was represented by a public defender and eventually pleaded guilty in Lynnwood Municipal Court. A judge granted her a deferred sentence and she was ordered to undergo mental health counseling and pay a $500 fine. The charge was dismissed in April 2010 once the woman met all the conditions of her sentence.

“Suffice it to say, certain pieces of information just led investigators to the wrong conclusion,” Rider said, declining to discuss specifics.

A few weeks ago, Lynnwood detectives received a call from authorities in Colorado.

What they heard about the serial rape suspect there convinced them they needed to board a plane to Denver. Rider and Sgt. Rod Cohnheim came back compelled to take a fresh look at the 2008 rape report.

“We developed enough information to reopen our case and it is now under investigation,” Rider said.

O’Leary lived in the Mountlake Terrace area before moving to Colorado in 2009.

Detectives in Colorado provided information to the Lynnwood police that was strikingly similar to the story told by the woman in 2008. There was forensic evidence collected during the investigation in Lynnwood three years ago. Police here likely will now submit it for testing.

The woman is cooperating with Lynnwood investigators, Jensen said. She has met with the department’s domestic violence advocate and also has been referred to Family and Friends of Violent Crime Victims, an Everett-based advocacy group.

“First and foremost, our priority is protecting the privacy of the victim. She doesn’t want a lot of media attention thrown her way,” Rider said.

The woman already has been reimbursed for the $500 fine she paid, Jensen said. Her wrongful conviction won’t be expunged until a lawyer makes a motion on her behalf.

Lynnwood investigators have spoken with Snohomish County Prosecuting Attorney Mark Roe. The prosecutor’s sexual assault unit has opened a file on the case. It will be up to them to decide if there is enough evidence to file charges against the suspect.

Jensen said the suspect may fall under investigation for other assaults in Washington.

<a href="http://www.denverpost.com/breakingnews/ci_17819217?source=rss

“>The Denver Post reported that investigators say the attacker there made his victims brush their teeth and shower to destroy trace evidence. He also allegedly removed bed covers and clothing and hid their phones so they couldn’t call police. Police also are reviewing photos of women, some of whom are believed to be victims, seized from O’Leary’s home.

Eric Stevick: 425-339-3446, stevick@heraldnet.com

Talk to us

More in Local News

Julie Copeland, center, with her daughters Lillian, 11, Naomi, 7 and son, Michah, 9 with their dog Pippin, 3, outside of Mary's Place on Thursday, Nov. 19, 2020 in Burien, Wa. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
A family of 6 pitched tent in Forest Park — then help arrived

Everett’s innovative team of a police officer and a social worker aided them in their time of greatest need.

A major fire broke out on the Everett waterfront Monday morning in an apparently difficult location. (Sue Misao / The Herald) 20181008
Everett boater gets house arrest for fraud in marina fire

He lost his boat in a 2018 fire. But valuables he claimed were destroyed weren’t burned. He sold them on OfferUp.

Port of Everett, state offer new small business grants

Port tenants and companies affected by COVID-19 health restrictions are encouraged to apply.

New Snohomish County online guide aims to boost businesses

County officials have launched an online business directory to help shoppers find local food and wares.

Man arrested after allegedly shooting at, fleeing deputies

A homeowner reportedly found the Lake Stevens man, 40, hiding in a garage and called 911.

Local economic relief programs to get $4.5 million infusion

The new cash will go to small businesses via city grant programs and Economic Alliance Snohomish County.

Auditor: Lack of oversight led to errors in Sultan finances

For a second time, the state auditor’s office urged the city to improve its financial review process.

Voters Brie Roberts, 28, and Michael Woods, 30, vote for the first time at the Robert J. Drewel Administration Building on the Snohomsish County Campus on Monday, Nov. 2, 2020 in Everett, Washington.  (Andy Bronson / The Herald)
Voters young and old put this election in the record book

Generations X and Z, and Millennials, showed up and increased their share of votes compared to 2016.

$250,000 bail for Everett man accused of firing at deputy

A five-mile chase ended with the suspect allegedly breaking into a Mill Creek home Saturday night.

Most Read