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Health & Balance

How I Escaped My Rapist

On the last night of her Italian vacation, ESPN exec Keri Potts went for a drink with a handsome artist. What could be the harm? She was about to find out. As told to Erin Zammett Ruddy.
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I was supposed to be on a flight back to the States a few hours later, but I couldn't go. There is nothing that disgusts me more than rape, and I would have felt like a hypocrite if I didn't report Marco to the authorities. I was battered and bruised  and still scared he might find me  but I couldn't let him get away with his attack. So Lynn and I got to work, calling my health-insurance company, my sister, the U.S. Embassy, the hospital, the police, my boss at ESPN. About an hour later, I started shaking uncontrollably. Just before daybreak, we went to the hospital for X-rays (miraculously, nothing was broken) and then to the U.S. Embassy, which helped me start a police report and arranged for an interpreter to meet me at the police station.

The next day, I spent 10 hours with the police and an interpreter, filing a report. At one point, we stood outside of the building where the man had helped me, and I tried to explain how I'd gotten away. The investigators were getting frustrated because I couldn't remember the balcony in question. Just then a woman walked up. "Are you American?" she asked. "I think my husband let you into our apartment last night." She let the police into the building and directed them to her balcony. (She and her husband also went to the police station to give a statement.) While she spoke to the police inside, I walked up and down the street crying, talking to myself and to God, even though I'm not a churchgoer. But I have to say, I felt a presence when that man let me in off the balcony, and I felt it again when his wife happened upon us in the street.

When the police were finished piecing together the escape route, the lead investigator looked at me and said, "You are Wonder Woman." Marco was interrogated that day and later charged with attempted sexual assault.

Lynn and I flew home, but the fight was far from over. I hired a legal team in Italy to follow through on the case, and I returned to Rome six months later for an interview with the public prosecutor. I wanted Marco to be punished for what he had done; I thought about how many other women he may have tried this with, and it made me feel sick. So I researched Italian criminal law to better understand the court system. I talked to the U.S. State Department and the Department of Justice about my case. I stayed in constant contact with my attorney, filling out court documents and visiting Italian Embassies in the U.S. to get papers stamped. Fortunately, my coworkers at ESPN were incredibly supportive, giving me the flexibility to finish my mission.

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