Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Ex Delicto Chapter 17

I couldn't remember exactly the last time I pulled an all nighter, but I came pretty close back at the beginning of Edward's case. I'm sure there was more than one while I was cramming for the board exam, too. There wasn't enough coffee in the world for this day, but I had to make it work. I had to see the victim at the hospital, Carmen Denali, and convince her to help us. If I was successful in getting her to agree to speak to me or the cops, it was strictly as a favor to the department. It wasn't the type of thing I did; I wasn't with the DA.

I had to suffer through Detective Black's ego while he drove me to the hospital. He talked constantly, about himself, about his career in the SPD, his uncle the judge, and even about how cool it was that my father hand picked him to keep an eye on his only daughter.

Finally, I couldn't take one more second of his boastful chatter. "I'm on my way to talk to a rape victim. One that was sodomized with an inanimate object so violently that she had a perforated colon. She could have bled out. What's worse, and it sucks to say there is something worse, is that the rapist is one of you. Someone sworn to uphold the law and protect the citizens of this city. Not rape them and threaten their four year old child, terrorizing her so much that she's clammed up. So please, for God's sake, shut the fuck up."

The only sound was the car's engine as we came to a stop in front of the hospital entrance. I was breathing heavily in my indignation, and I was staring straight ahead with my fists clenched in my lap. I wanted to punch him, I was so pissed.

I saw out of my peripheral as he turned toward me, but I refused to acknowledge him. "I think I love you," he said in an awed tone.

Gasping, I turned to look at his smug face, my hands balling into tighter, painful fists. Unbelievable. "The only reason your nose isn't bleeding copiously right now is that I know it's illegal to strike a police officer." I shoved the door open roughly and climbed out, my heels clicking on the linoleum as I strode angrily through the doors and toward the elevators.

Unfortunately, he had to follow me. I yanked my phone out of my purse, texting my father that he needed to find a replacement for Black or suffer the embarrassment of me filing a sexual harassment suit against one of his men, and the nephew of my favorite judge. The response came before I even stepped out of the elevator on the victim's floor. He would take care of it immediately.

I nodded to the uniform on duty outside the room of Carmen Denali. She was lying asleep, her face turned mostly away from the door. Her left eye was purple, and the arm that was lying on top of the blanket was in a brace. Her machines beeped steadily, and I squinted at the bag of IV fluids. Sodium chloride, antibiotics, and an injection of pain reliever that had emptied into the IV line.

I sat carefully in the chair nearest the bed, trying to be quiet. I pulled my notepad out of my purse and wrote down my initial impressions. Physically, she'd recover. But emotionally, I had no idea if she was strong enough. My thoughts drifted to Lauren Mallory and the thought that Newton's sadistic violence had escalated. I wondered how many women he'd silenced in the last ten years, using his badge as a weapon of fear instead of one of courage and sacrifice.

When I thought of Dad and Emmett, and other members of this family that considered their job as a calling, I grew furious. They sacrificed so much, including with loved ones, their safety, and sometimes their very lives. And this scum used his position to commit violent crimes and cover them up.

"Who are you?" a soft voice croaked from my right.

I turned my attention to the fragile looking woman in the bed. "Ms. Denali, my name is Isabella Swan. I'm an attorney, and I was hoping to have a moment to speak with you."

"I have nothing to say." She closed her tired eyes again, turning further away from me.

Like you're the first person to ever say that to me. "That's fine. I'll talk." I shifted to face her bed fully. "Ten years ago, there was a party at a frat house at the University of Washington. Two women were drugged, and one was raped while she was unconscious. There was also a young med student there at the party, who was woken up by the cops in the middle of the night. He was accused of raping and drugging the girl, and spent ten years in federal prison. He thought that maybe he had done it. He thought to himself, maybe he was so blacked out that he committed a heinous crime without any memory of it. He was recently granted a reversal and released from prison after his case was reviewed. He was drugged. He was unconscious. There were three victims that night; one girl was drugged, one girl was drugged and raped, and one boy was drugged and set up for the crime."

"What does that have to do with me?" she asked angrily, her bruised eyes glaring at me full on.

I placed a gentle hand over hers. "The same person that was responsible for those crimes, is also responsible for what happened to you."

Her head jerked, her eyes filled with a familiar, haunted look. "I don't understand."

"The man that brutalized you got his start drugging and raping college girls. He's never paid, because he manipulated the evidence back then. I have a feeling this is not the first recurrence of these actions where he attacks women while he's on shift. He threatens women not to tell, I'm sure of it."

"Why is he able to do all of this? Why hasn't anyone arrested him?" Her voice rose in agitation, her hands gripping the blanket tightly. She grunted and relaxed the hand encased in the brace.

"Because nobody has ever come forward. His threats have always worked. My brother is a detective, he's looking for unsolved sexual assaults that are similar to yours. Interviewing women admitted to the hospital that are still too scared to say what happened."

Tears streaked down her face, and I felt awful that I was even the tiniest bit responsible for them. But I needed her help.

"I can't help you." She shook her head. "I can't. My son. My son!" She started to sob, and I wanted to hold her to me, but I didn't want to scare her.

"If you tell me who did this, he'll be arrested. He won't be able to touch you or your son. Right now, there's a deputy outside your door and one outside your house. My brother is determined to put this man away and to keep you safe." I stroked a finger over her cheek, then pulled away when she flinched.
"If I could, I'd personally lock him up without needing your statement. I'd put him in prison for all the things he did ten years ago, but the proof just isn't there. I need your help to put this man away, to make sure he isn't able to hurt anyone else, ever again."

We stayed silent for another five minutes before she hiccuped and said, "What do you need to know?"

I'm sure you're all missing Edward by now, but I'm gonna make it up to you. Big time.

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