College Park rape survivor speaks of ordeal, recovery
A young woman who was raped and beaten after she went out with friends in College Park said that the experience will not define her life or stop her from succeeding.
After the attack, "I proved to myself I can succeed. I graduated with a great GPA and got a job," said the woman, 22 now, who spoke to a group of TV, radio, and print reporters on the condition that she not be identified by name and that her face not be photographed. The woman now works for a public relations firm.
The woman was a 21-year-old student at the University of Maryland when she was attacked.
She had been out drinking with friends at Cornerstone, a College Park bar on Route 1, and left about 2:30 a.m. on Feb. 21, 2009.
The woman accepted a ride from a man, later identified as Derik E. Villeda-Morales, 24, of Laurel.
The woman told reporters she thought Villeda-Morales was a taxi driver, even though his vehicle did not have taxi markings. "He said 'Yes, I'm a cab driver,' " she said.
The woman settled into the front passenger seat and gave Villeda-Morales the address of the home she shared with other students. But he drove by it.
She said she called friends and police, but Villeda-Morales began hitting her with his closed fist.
"I felt like he had complete and utter control over me," the woman said. As Villeda-Morales hit her, she lapsed in and out of consciousness.
Villeda-Morales drove to Route 50 in Cheverly, where he forced the victim to peform oral sex and raped her, according to court records. The victim suffered a swollen right eye and a bloody nose. The attacker drove the woman into Davidsonville, where she managed to get out of the vehicle. An off-duty police officer spotted her and helped her, the woman said.
Asked whether her drinking had affected her judgment that night, the woman said, "You should feel safe in whatever situation you are in, you should feel safe. Obviously, that's not the truth." The woman noted that she was able to accurately describe the attack and her assailant to police.
Her description paid off. About two weeks after the attack, Villeda-Morales was stopped for a traffic violation. The woman picked his picture out of a photo array.
Last week, Villeda-Morales pleaded guilty to second-degree rape and second-degree assault, and was sentenced to 15 years in prison. After he serves his prison term, federal immigration authorities will seek to deport Villeda-Morales who is in the country illegally, Prince George's prosecutors said. Villeda-Morales is originally from Guatemala.
The rape survivor praised the work of police and prosecutors. "To know he's in prison and will be deported afterward is a huge relief," she said.
February 25, 2010; 5:20 PM ET
Categories: Pr. George's , Ruben Castaneda | Tags: College Park, Derik E. Villeda-Morales, Glenn F. Ivey, rape
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