Updated: Jan 23, 2022
As a survivor, I dreaded the thought of a plea deal. I got so angry when it was brought up. I was so focused on it not being fair and I thought the prosecution considered it because it would save time, money, and it would let the perpetrator get off easy. There are a ton of pros and cons to plea deals and trials that I’m not going to get into, but the prosecutor on my case did an excellent job of explaining them to me. And it’s so complex and different for every case. For example, a plea deal can be beneficial because it doesn’t put the victim/family through a trial, which can be triggering and traumatizing all over again despite a potentially better outcome (a longer sentence).
I’m just going to focus on one fraction of the differences of the two – admission of guilt that comes with a plea deal. If a perpetrator is offered a plea deal and they don’t take it, a trial would happen. But even if they are found guilty in trial, they’re likely still going to go to prison claiming they’re not guilty, right? They’ll forever say, I didn't do it, or he said vs. she said: It wasn’t what it seems. I can’t imagine this provides a whole lot of closure and healing for survivors.
I’ve obtained the transcript from the court hearing in November of 2020 when the rapist that hunted me down pled guilty. Note: He pled guilty in the hearing in November of 2020 and was later sentenced on February 10th of 2021. Hearing the words, his admission of guilt, was extremely overwhelming, both heartbreaking and relieving. And now I also have it in writing. I’ve included some of the transcript in my memoir (Four Pounds of Pressure: A Memoir of Rape, Survival, and Taking Back My Power), but I will also share some snips of his admission of guilt to the second case here (the first being the burglary November 16th of 2018, the second being the early morning hours of November 18th of 2018).
THE COURT: And on 85-CR-19-435, count 11, criminal sexual conduct in the first degree, fear of great bodily harm. How do you plead, Sir; guilty or not guilty?
THE DEFENDANT: Guilty.
Defense Attorney: And the specific circumstances that would have led her to fear imminent great bodily harm are that this occurred in the middle of the night, you were armed, and that was known to her. You were in her home without permission, you were wearing a mask, and you were disguising your voice; correct?
Defense Attorney: And two of those factors, specifically, are that the victim was particularly vulnerable in this case because at one point during the evening she was zip-tied. She did have a child in a nearby room who she was concerned about. And so, she would have been less able to flee the situation than somebody who is not taking care of a child. And that she was in bed at the time this incident started. Correct?
Zane was convicted of one criminal sexual conduct charge, much like what would happen if the case had gone to trial, and the jury members would have found him guilty of the 15 criminal sexual conduct felonies = still one conviction (this is why the rest say dismissed).
Hearing his admission of guilt will be forever engrained in my mind as a small piece of closure from November 18th of 2018.
I cried for so many reasons during this hearing… I cried because I was reliving the nightmare. I cried because it had been such a long court process and it was finally coming to an end. I cried because I felt like I could be done trying to defend myself. I cried because it started a new countdown for my son and I – the countdown until his release from prison. I cried because I never thought I’d hear his admission of guilt, and damn, that was good.
So, there I sat, in my home with my mom, ex-husband, and best friend crying the most complex, emotional, confusing cry I’ve ever cried, but we were social distancing because of COVID-19 so I ultimately sat there in solitude.
I’m sure not all survivors get relief from a plea deal. But the person that hurt my son and I knows what he did. I know that his admission of guilt was real; he knows it too.