In 1999, Lisa Ripp was on a downward spiral. Alcohol, domestic violence, and eventually crack had all taken their toll. You might have thought that her life couldn’t get worse.
You’d be wrong.
She was looking for drugs in a rough part of New Orleans when a man offered to sell her some. Lisa followed him into his house; he wasn’t planning to let her out.
For eighteen horrifying hours, the man held Lisa captive. He raped her, broke her jaw, and gave her a brain hemorrhage.
“Nobody cares about you,” the man told her. “You ain’t nothin’ but a whore. Nobody’s going to even look for you.”
Lisa came to learn that his name was Richard LeBeu; he worked at a local school.
She made her escape the next morning, crawling naked through a window and stumbling along the street. People ignored her as they went by.
Finally, a woman helped her get to a laundromat. As Lisa waited for the police, she looked out the window in horror: LeBeu was coming around the corner. Thankfully, someone at the laundromat had a gun and told her not worry.
Lisa knew who raped her, having seen a piece of mail at LeBeu’s house and memorized his name. However, it wasn’t long before she was the one going to prison.
Lisa was arrested two days after getting out of the hospital, accused of agreeing to perform oral sex on an undercover officer. She denies the claim, pointing out that her jaw was wired shut. Still, her public defender told her to plead guilty. That and a previous drug charge was enough to land her behind bars.
While in prison, Lisa turned to Christ and away from her addiction. But after being released, the rape survivor discovered that she wasn't the only one free to walk the streets.
LeBeu was too.
Despite raping Lisa and almost beating her to death, he only spent sixty-two days in jail. The District Attorney's office said LeBeu was released because his victim couldn't be located.
"I was in prison," Lisa remembers with frustration. "I wasn't hard to find."
She was then told the case couldn't be pursued because her file had gone missing. But to Lisa, the real reason was obvious.
"They thought I was just another crackhead who didn't deserve justice," she says angrily.
Lisa kept demanding action, but it wasn't until 2009 that she started to see results. A new DA had been elected: Leon A. Cannizzaro, Jr. Ironically, Cannizzaro had been the judge who sentenced Lisa to prison, but she was able to convince his office to take action.
Lisa has a lot of praise for Cannizzaro's team, particularly Assistant District Attorney Mary Glass. Lisa called her after hearing that Lebeu had been arrested for another rape. Right away, she knew Glass would be different.
"Mary listened to me, made one phone call, and discovered that my dusty evidence box was still sitting in the EXACT same spot it was placed back in 1999."
Finally, over a decade after Lebeu had tried to destroy her, Lisa was there to hear his sentence: life without parole. "I watched the hope drain from his eyes," she remembers.
He died in prison.
But Lisa's story doesn't end there. At the DA's office, she noticed that abused children were being questioned in the same cold, intimidating space as adults---something she decided to change.
Thanks to her, traumatized kids are now taken to "Lisa's Room," a place full of stuffed animals, a television, and other things that she raised money for. Cannizzaro again praised her, this time for providing "a warm and inviting safe haven" to youngsters in need.
Lisa also underwent a physical transformation. She had coped with PTSD through unhealthy eating, leaving her overweight. As she got the helped that she needed, Lisa fell in love with exercise and became a certified personal trainer.
Given her fight for justice and desire to help others, it seems like Lisa is the sort of person that sexual assault advocates would embrace. Well, they don't. The reason? She's a conservative.
DA Cannizzaro is a Democrat, but his party affiliation never affected how he treated Lisa. "He's the only one who ever gave me a voice," she says. Lisa praises his tough, common-sense approach, something that liberal activists often lack.
For many on the left, telling women to do things like be aware of their surroundings, watch their drinks, or arm themselves amounts to "victim blaming" and "promoting rape culture." It's an argument that Lisa has no time for.
"I went to buy drugs," she admits. "Did I deserve to get raped and tortured? No, of course not. But when you don't make responsible decisions, bad things can happen."
She also resents how leftists insist that we believe all women...when it's politically convenient. After three women came forward to accuse Bill Clinton, liberal TV personality Joy Behar called them "tramps."
Juanita said Clinton bit her on the lip, something Kathleen Wiley would accuse him of as well. That two women who didn't know each other would make the same, specific allegation years apart seems awfully damning, and yet the mainstream media wanted little to do with the story. However, it was happy to repeat wild accounts of Brett Kavanagh leading organized gang rapes.
That double standard makes Lisa's blood boil. She doesn't raise her voice when speaking about it, but her tone definitely has an edge.
"When people make these false allegations, it infuriates me," she says. "And they're weaponizing our trauma for political gain."
Lisa knows that telling her story can help others avoid the same fate and give hope to those who are suffering. However, some anti-rape groups seem to put ideology over the well being of victims: she makes no secret of her politics, and believes that's why organizations that initially offered to work with her suddenly stopped responding to messages.
Not that Lisa lets any of it slow her down. She keeps speaking about the need for women to protect themselves and for the justice system to take predators seriously. She also continues to raise money for victims. Because twenty years ago, Richard LeBeu told Lisa she was nothing.
She enjoys proving him wrong.
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