Paper Warns Readers About “Raw, Brutal” Rape Victim’s Story


The Cleveland Plain Dealer did not name the victim in 1984 when it published a story headlined, “Disgusted judge gives repeat offender 30 years for rape.” In a special section, the victim, Joanna Connors, then the Plain Dealer’s theater critic, tells what happened “for all of the others who have survived sexual assault in silence, ashamed and afraid to tell their stories.”

Connors tells about what Editor Susan Goldberg calls “her chance encounter with a dangerous felon on parole; the nightmare of the trial; her subsequent years of coping and denial; and, finally, her search to find the man who raped her so she could try, at last, to move on from an incident that changed and scarred her life.” Goldberg warns readers that “the language is raw, the acts described are brutal. Her struggle — over the rape itself and the complex racial issues it raised — is intense.” She says: “Some of you might be upset or angry. Some of you might not want to read this story.” Goldberg says, “We risk offending some readers in the hope that Joanna’s story will help other sexual-assault victims grapple with their own trauma and misdirected self-blame, and find ways to heal.”


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