The In Between

After being dealt an awesome blow by the Italian Justice System, I figured I had about 9 days to get my head out of my ass. I’d be leaving for my first vacation in two years – by myself – and I didn’t want to ruin it. But for the first 5 of those days, I let myself drown in the defeat. It started the next day with my morning shower. The hot water hit me, and I leaned up against the wall, and I cried that kind of open-mouthed, choking cry where you don’t make a noise. I didn’t want my father to hear me. Or the neighbors. I just stayed in that shower, eventually slumping into the corner. I felt cheated. I was staring down a legal bill that would cost – in my estimation – at least $10,000 US. The logical part of my brain understood and accepted that there are no guarantees in legal battles. But the irrational part of my brain was in charge at the moment and it didn’t want to hear any of that.

While eating breakfast, and still debating if I should go into work or not and risk spontaneous crying, I sent a note to my boss and the executives and coworkers at my company who had supported me on this very long, unsatisfying journey. I wanted them to know how much I appreciated them. And then I followed it quickly with a letter to the US Embassy officers in Rome who had helped me in the hours, days and weeks after the assault. I wanted them to know I had seen the case through to the very end, just like I said I would:

“Good morning everyone –

Just wanted to send a note regarding my case in Italy. I received word today that Marco received a sentence of 11 months and 10 days of probation. He will not spend a day in jail nor does he have to restore any damages to me unless I pursue him in civil court. Clearly, this is a bitter pill to swallow.The prosecutor who increased the charges against him after meeting me in Rome, is the same one who “bargained” this verdict. As I search for some answers the next few days, just wanted to thank you all for you care, concern, love and encouragement. I have wonderful friends.

Love, Keri”

STATE DEPARTMENT

“Dear Domenico, Mina and Oliver –

I wanted to let you know the results of the case against Marco T., an Italian citizen who attacked me in November of 2008, and seek additional information. I pursued T. in the Roman courts via my attorney. The police investigation and results of my personal interview with the Public Prosecutor of Rome (Mrs. Dito) in June of 2009, resulted in the charges against T. being increased from attempted sexual assault to sexual assault and personal lesion meaning T. was facing 12 years of prison instead of 5 years. All evidence and witnesses supported my account of what took place. On April 22 (yesterday), the Public Prosecutor bargained with T.’s lawyer such that he will not serve a day in jail (has 5 years of probation) nor does he have to pay any restoration of my damages (costs of the trips to and from Rome, injuries, legal fees, etc.). My attorneys are completely surprised by this.

I am contacting you simply to update you as all three of you were communicating with me in the immediate days after the attack, but also to seek any information about looking into this inexplicable result. I feel, as you might understand, that there was a bias by the Roman Courts. In the wake of Berlusconi increasing the penalties for sexual assault (after the attacks by Romanians on several Italian women), this result would seem counterintuitive.

Just wondering if there is anything I can do to look into the matter and make sure I was treated fairly. The Italian legal system looks to make the victim whole. Yet, I have been left completely without restoration in any way despite the courts agreeing a severe crime took place.

Any insights would be greatly appreciated.

Sincerely,

Keri Potts”

That second letter might seem like a small thing, but looking back on it, it was not. In defeat, I still had some fight in me. And it was a fair question to ask. How? How was this outcome possible? I’m being punished for having helped to identify a man who tried to rape me and trying to remove him from the general population.

And that’s how the next few days went. Terrible showers, suffocating defeat and bursts of anger that had me firing off letters to the State Department, my attorneys and contemplating a few calls to some choice publications in Italy letting them know exactly what took place with one Marco Tamburro of Perugia, now of Rome.

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