My name is Tiffani, I am 37 years old and I reside in Dallas, Texas. This is my personal story of rape along with the story of seven other victims. Please consider sharing my story; together, we can help save lives.
Rape and sexual assault is something that happens every day in this country. According to RAINN, one in six women and one in 33 men will be sexually assaulted in their lifetime, and every two minutes someone in the U.S. is sexually assaulted. There is no way to predict who it will happen to or when it will happen and nobody ever thinks it will happen to them. Many innocent women are raped each year. Many people do not understand the physical and mental damage a rape can do to a person. Therefore, I want to share my story with others to represent other innocent victims who have been raped so that they can begin to one day, erase the scares that I have been able to slowly erase over the years and hopefully help to protect and save innocent lives.
My view of the world as being a safe place changed, suddenly, on December 11, 2000 when I was robbed and raped in my own home by a stranger. It was two days after my birthday, I was 28 years old. I had just moved into a new apartment complex with my roommate and had lived there for only two days. I left the morning of December 11th to go to work to find out that my car was missing. The night before, my friends and I had gone out to celebrate my birthday, we got home late and were unable to find an available parking spot, therefore, I parked in a covered parking spot, not knowing, as I was a new resident, that this particular parking spot was reserved. Later that afternoon I learned my car had been towed. Later than same day I recovered my car at the tow lot and decided to take the rest of the afternoon off to unpack and trash empty boxes. I went in and out of my apartment, going to my car, apartment and dumpster on several occasions, while leaving my door unlocked. The third time I walked back into my apartment, I was carrying my vacuum cleaner and a box from my car. I opened the front door and noticed it would not budge all the way. I immediately thought it was my roommate, thinking she had returned home from work early that day and playing a joke on me. A man in a ski mask jumped out from behind the front door, grabbed me from behind and told me to do everything he said or he would kill me. My first instinct was to fight, which I did. I soon realized he was much bigger and stronger than me and when he told me he had a knife and he would kill me if I did not do what he said, I knew this was serious. He then began to drag me to my bedroom, took me to my closet, closed the door and that is where the horror began. He threw me to the ground, in front of a dresser, asked me to pull down my pants, asked me to go down on him, asked me to pee on him, he went down on me, he raped me in the front and back side, each time while I begged him to stop, he smelled like he had not showered in days, I begged him to use a condom, he told me to shut up or he would kill me, he raped me in my dark closet for 20 minutes. Once he had his way with me and was finished, he threw me down in the corner of my closet and told me not to move or say a word or, once again, he would kill me. I heard him run out of the closet and about 2 minutes after I heard him run out of the front door, I got up and ran to the apartment complex begging for help, screaming that I had been raped. The cops were called and the investigation began.
At first I felt disgust, and truly did not know how to handle the emotions I was feeling after being raped. People said my behavior changed, and knew something was wrong. I cried when I thought about it, as it lived with me day and night. I had nightmares that kept me up throughout the night and still do to this day. The trauma that man put me through, no human being should ever have to endure in their entire lifetime. I have had to describe every single detail of the rape to police, detectives, district attorneys, defense attorneys, lawyers and others, on numerous occasions. At the hospital I went through a painful and humiliating examination, plus pregnancy, STD and AIDS tests that had to be repeated for years following this crime. Not to mention the time I had to take of from work to re-group to try to get myself together, the counseling appointments, and the daily struggle to physically and emotionally accept what I was forced to endure. The stress I suffered was beyond description, and continues to this day. I have been anxious, hypersensitive, experienced flashbacks, etc. etc., and have had to spend a lot of my own hard-earned money purchasing sleeping medications, etc. I even had to admit to my roommate and my family that I had to move, because my old apartment, one that I had only lived in for two days, had too many painful memories of the assault that that man viciously and unlawfully committed.
This rape has not only hurt me, but it has also hurt my family and friends, whom I love dearly. My father and brother, specifically, feel such constant and intense worry about me (and for that matter, my sister and my mother), that they are sickened by the fact that they were unable to defend me when I most needed their help. This in turn has led to quality of life issues that I never had before. I constantly look over my shoulder to see if anyone is following me. I am hesitant to trust men. I go through my house when I get home to make sure no one is in there. I tense up every time I come in contact with African American males. I harass my friends to lock their doors. I do not feel safe without an alarm system in both my house and my car. I carry mace with me everywhere I go. I cannot walk outside by myself at night, let alone with someone by my side, and the list goes on and on and on.
I lived in fear and agony for years waiting to catch the man who raped me. I diligently worked with the Dallas Police department in any way I could to catch him. Detectives eventually called him the “front-door serial rapist” for the way he surprised his female victims and barged inside their apartments. The rapist struck regularly in Dallas in 2000 and 2001, attacking seven of his eight victims during a nine-month period. I was the third woman attacked out of eight. I did everything in my power to spread the word in the community in order to warn women he was on the loose and ready to attack again. I interviewed with Fox 4 News, spoke to America’s Most Wanted, talked to friends, co-workers, passed out flyers, etc. pleading for them to get the word out that he was still out there and to lock their doors. I was contacted by the owner of the apartment complex I lived in at the time, Lincoln Property, who stood by my side offering to help pay for my move to another apartment community at a discounted rental rate, which I later agreed to do. I was also contacted by lawyers interested in pursuing a case against Lincoln Property arguing the case that there was not enough lighting and parking spots available for tenants, such as myself, thus leading to my attack, which I chose not to pursue.
Five years later in September 2005, a man followed a local college student home from a local grocery store and raped her in her own home. Dallas police Sergeant Pat Welsh said he knew immediately that the same attacker had become active again due to the similar way he attacked his victims and the things he said to them. Police pored over surveillance camera footage from the victim’s apartment and the grocery store (same grocery store he spotted each of his victims) and spotted a distinctive utility truck at both scenes. A break came when patrol officers spotted the truck and followed it to a local cable TV installation company, where he worked. A DNA sample taken matched evidence from the other assaults, including mine. A match also was made to fingerprints from one of the attacks. I got the call I had been waiting for that my attacker was found and finally learned the name of the man who tormented my life. I felt an amazing peace come over me because I now knew where he was, behind bars, and best of all, he wasn’t out there hurting other women.
Nine months after the crucial break that led to the arrest of 36-old Monte Johnson and five and a half years after my attack, all eight of his known victims confronted him in court on Thursday, June 8, 2006 after he pleaded guilty to two charges of aggravated sexual assault and confessed to the six other rapes.
District Judge Mary Miller handed down the maximum possible punishment in the case – two life sentences and two $10,000 fines – despite pleas for mercy from Johnson’s relatives and claims that he had been in the throes of drug addiction. “While I feel for your mother and your fiancé, it is much more important in this court’s opinion to make sure that you never walk the streets of Dallas again,” Judge Miller said. “You are a predator, and you stalked these women. It was premeditated and had absolutely nothing to do with drugs.”
All eight of us victims, friends and families praised the judge’s sentence because according to RAINN, only 6% of rapists will ever spend a day in jail which leaves 94% of rapists out there, walking the streets, preying on innocent women. Three of his victims, including myself, read a prepared “victim impact statement” to Mr. Johnson as the court room sobbed explaining how we were still coping with feelings of vulnerability and a reluctance to trust people.
Investigators are trying to determine whether Mr. Johnson could have moved away from Dallas during his four-year lull and committed more assaults in other cities. A search of nationwide DNA database of unsolved cases has not turned up any matches as of yet.
By law, Mr. Johnson must serve at least 30 years in prison before he’s eligible for parole. Judge Miller said she regretted that the law did not allow her to make the two life sentences run consecutively.
Unfortunately, one year after my trial, Mr. Johnson appealed his verdict of two life sentences. He stated he received an unfair trial and Judge and claimed that the “sex” was consensual contesting he knew all eight of his victims, therefore, requesting a new trial, and this time by a jury. Because of his rights he was granted a new trial. After months of preparation to face my attacker a second time in court and going over the personal details of my rape numerous times with my Detectives, the day of the trial, I was in the courtroom ready to face Johnson again. This time around, however, the Judge did not grant his wish for a second trial and in turn, it was recommended to Johnson that he immediately accept a plea bargain, which added twenty years to his already two life sentences. Johnson will now be in prison for at least the next 40 years!
No one should ever have to live in fear. Johnson’s conviction of two life sentences
and an additional 20 years provided me with so much peace, because after all, he is a cold-hearted criminal, and criminals such as Johnson do not stop until they are forced to stop. God answered my prayers, in that he was caught and prosecuted. He will more than likely never be set free in this beautiful world again to hurt anyone else. I truly believe in Karma and believe that people reap what they sow. He will finally be held accountable for everything that he sowed. I was in that court room through adversity, and the power and strength that God bestowed upon me, allowing me to come forward, to ensure that no more innocent women are hurt by this man ever again.
Now, I can strongly say that I am a survivor and not a victim anymore. I do not live my life in shame and I’m finally free of what once held me back. For me it was nothing more than a sign from God leading me into the path of healing all my wounds. It represents everything strong in survivors and has forever changed my life. I have so much to live for now. Even though December 11, 2000 will never be far from my thoughts, and my pain from that day will never dissipate, I have come to the following conclusions, which is something I doubt that this man will ever understand and will never be able to say about himself:
I was hurt very badly, BUT in spite of the hurt, I have grown
I was deeply wounded, BUT I survived
I was exposed to the absolute worst in human behavior, BUT have done my best to trust again.
My voice was silenced on that day, BUT no longer, as I have heard and responded to the need and paid of others.
I was touched by one of the greatest evils, BUT I have chosen to embrace goodness.
My agony cannot be denied, but neither can all the “BUTS” that are contained within me. They have shaped me, even though my pain has left me grounded. They made up the magic that will allow me to continue to fly. I will take them with me always.
DNA helped to solve my case. DNA helps to solve a lot of cases. After my rapist was prosecuted, I was asked by Dallas Police and Debbie Smith, an outspoken rape survivor and advocate for the use of forensic DNA funding, to lobby Congress to help get DNA funding. I agreed to participate and speak.
On June 28, 2006, Debbie Smith met with me and two other rape victims, the Dallas Police Department and the Dallas County District Attorney’s Office to discuss the importance of DNA testing to public safety. We urged the Texas Congressional delegation to fully fund the federal grant programs for forensic DNA testing.
Debbie Smith lobbied Congress to enact H.S. 5107, the Justice For All Act of 2004, authorizing over $155 million each year through 2009 to help states and local governments reduce their backlogs of DNA evidence from unsolved crimes and convicted offender samples. Title II of the bill was named the Debbie Smith Act in honor of her efforts. The President has proposed to fully fund the Debbie Smith Act grants at $155 million for 2007, and the proposal in the House of Representatives matches this amount.
With the help of federal DNA grants, Texas has significantly increased its DNA analysis and has collected over 300,000 offender profiles for the database. The state reports it has made almost 1,000 matches on its DNA database, and aided over 1,200 investigations. Nearly half of all database matches have been to unsolved rapes. Debbie Smith noted that the state of Virginia, which has the most mature DNA database in the country, is now boasting over 3,000 database matches, with no-suspect forensic cases having a 50% success rate for being matched to an offender’s profile. “With the possibility of instantly providing a suspect in six out of ten stranger rapes, how can we afford anything less than full funding for DNA programs? What other forensic program has this sort of success rate for solving violent crimes?” It is so important for this program to be fully funded. The general public’s safety relies on it.
The event was hosted by the Texas Association Against Sexual Assault (TAASA), which noted, “There is no other forensic discipline that has the immediate impact to solve violent crimes that this DNA database has. It is essential that we fund this testing both at the federal level and at the state level to continue the success of this program.” Also speaking in support of continued funding was the Dallas Police Department’s First Assistant Chief, David Brown. “The Dallas Police Department recognizes that many crimes could not be solved without the analysis of DNA evidence,” he said. “That is why we support the continued federal funding of forensic DNA programs which are an invaluable tool for law enforcement.”
In a statement from the press, Toby Shook, of the Dallas District Attorney’s Office, commented on the importance of DNA in the courts. “DNA evidence is the single most powerful piece of evidence that a prosecutor can present to a jury. DNA has the power to go back in time and identify previously unknown criminals and prevent their future crimes. It is imperative that law enforcement make full use of DNA technology in hunting down these murderers and sexual predators. That is why I enthusiastically support the Debbie Smith DNA Grant Program.”
Others attending the meeting in support of Mrs. Smith and the victims pleas for fully funding of the Debbie Smith Act grant included representation of Brighter Tomorrow’s, Victim’s Outreach, Dallas County Sexual Assault Coalition, Texas Victim Services Association and the Crime Victim Council of Dallas County. Furthermore, all of the major media outlets in Dallas (six TV stations, one news radio station, the Dallas Morning News, an AP photographer and an AP reporter) covered our DNA testing and funding event. Moreover, the Associated Press’ story about the event also triggered coverage outside of Dallas. One of the TV stations in Dallas also invited me and Debbie Smith to appear in studio as special guests on a morning program for a more extensive interview. I was also interviewed by News Channel 5 (NBC) where my story was aired for the next two days in Dallas stressing the importance of DNA funding along with the story of my case and Mr. Johnson’s two life sentences plus 20 years. Furthermore, a Dallas based DNA forensic lab center invited me to meet with researchers to tell them “my story” in an effort to show them first hand that the hard work they do every day does bring closure to real people such as myself and does not go unnoticed. The drama and cold, hard reality of the issues discussed at the event captured the attention of the Dallas media. Therefore, we feel we accomplished our goals for the event itself.
This is my story and the story of seven other victims. I am an advocate for rape victims and the support of DNA funding. Please consider sharing my story; together, we can help save lives.