For 11 years, Jane Piper searched for ways to put back the life that unraveled when a stranger raped her.
On Tuesday, Piper closed her eyes, let out a long breath and whispered, "I'm ready," before she walked slowly to a witness box inside the Airport courthouse and looked at the man who had upended her life. She was ready to finally ask him.
While victims have a right to address a judge at a sentencing hearing about how a crime affected their lives, confronting attackers in court is unusual in rape cases, said Carol Burke, who heads the Los Angeles County district attorney's office's sex-crimes division. Her office encourages victims to try, she said, knowing that doing so has provided a sense of personal justice for some, but many victims say no.
While KTLA does not typically name victims in sexual assault cases, Piper asked to be identified, saying that it shows she's not ashamed of what happened to her and that other victims shouldn't be either. She also feels a responsibility as a victim, she said, to add her voice to a conversation often dominated by people several steps removed from the crime.
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