Journalist Describes Long-Ago Rape As A "Weed Growing, Choking Everything"

In 1984, the Cleveland Plain Dealer's theater critic, Joanna Connors, was raped by a repeat sexual offender when she was on assignment at Case Western University. (Her rapist, David Francis, was given 30 years in jail.) Now, 23 years later, Connors has decided to tell her story because, although her ordeal was something she had buried, the rape was "still powerful inside me. It was a weed growing, choking everything." In a 16-page spread printed in the Plain Dealer over the weekend, Connors describes why she decided to revisit her trauma, confessing that, although she knew very little about her rapist, "he had controlled a lot of my life." She found that Francis had passed away from cancer while he was in jail and he was buried in a grave marked only with a number — not even with his name. She also found a few kindred spirits: As today's Editor & Publisher reports, Connors has been inundated with messages, both from other female rape survivors and well-meaning men. "It has been amazing," she says. "I heard from a guy who worked with me at the University of Minnesota and a guy who read it online. I also heard from a person who was on the jury." After the jump, the moving video of Connors telling the story of her experience and her search for David Francis.


Beyond Rape [Cleveland Plain Dealer]

Related: 'Plain Dealer' Staffer's Rape Story Brings Other Victims Out [Editor & Publisher]

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