Overcoming stigma

By: Jyllian Roach, Managing Editor

Photo By: Scott M. Roberts, Photojournalist

After being abducted and gang-raped, a former Liberal Arts major who asked only to be identi­fied as “Mark” said that sharing even his first name scares him because his attackers have not been apprehended.

Seven years ago, Mark went for a walk in his neighborhood when a cargo van pulled up beside him, and two men forced him inside. Mark was forced to strip naked and stay on all fours, Mark said the driver parked the van after driving for some time, and then joined the three other abductors in the back.

“The one holding the gun sticks it to the side of my head and says that if I bite down, he’s going to pull the trigger,” said Mark.

Mark was orally and anally raped multiple times by his abductors, he said. The gun stayed at his temple the entire time, he said.

“When they finished, they pulled out their knives,” said Mark.

Mark had more than 50 knife wounds of varying length and depth, many in different symbols, on his back, chest, legs and arms, he said. Mark said he was thrown, naked and bleeding, out of the vehicle and into the dirt. One of the abductors told him to run and then fired the gun into the air.

Mark thinks he ran along the bank of the Rio Grande for 15 minutes before he saw houses, said Mark. He banged on the door of the nearest home, yell­ing for help.

The door was answered by Clarence Vigil, according to the statement Vigil gave to APD.

In his statement, Vigil said that he brought Mark inside, gave him a towel, and called 911.

Paramedics arrived at Vigil’s home and transported Mark to UNMH for treatment. While a doctor gave Mark 223 stitches for cuts and tears on his body, two APD officers arrived to take his statement which is when things went from bad to worse, said Mark.

“One of them actually said it must have been my fault. They didn’t believe I was grabbed. They said that I must’ve hired a bunch of male prostitutes and then didn’t want to pay them,” said Mark.

Mark said that the officers also misrepresented the facts in the police report.

The police report filed by Officers Friedfertig and Cottrell references forced fellatio, but does not include any mention of anal penetration. The police report also states that they were unable to locate the place where Mark had been thrown from the vehicle. Mark said that informa­tion in the police report leads him to believe that the police were searching in the wrong area. The report also mentions “Mark’s” recent break up and signs of possible self-mutilation on his arm.

Friedfertig and Cottrell could not be reached for comment.

Mark said he was trans­ported in the back of a police car, wrapped only in a blanket, to the Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner’s office to complete a rape kit. The nurses there were the first people who were gentle and compassionate toward him, said Mark.

It was 16 days later that detective Judy Chavez of the sex crimes unit spoke to Mark, according to Chavez’s report. Chavez’s report acknowledges the anal penetration. The report also references Mark’s break up. Chavez also interviewed Mark’s ex-girlfriend, who said that Mark was depressed and a “cutter.”

Mark does not deny being depressed after the break up, nor that he had cut shapes into his arm weeks before the attack.

Four months later, Chavez closed the case pending further leads, according to the report. Chavez could not be reached for comment.

“I think the way the police handled it made it so much worse,” he said.

It was a few months later that Mark learned he would never get justice. The batch of evidence in the rape kit, including semen samples, was among many com­promised after the officers in charge of the evidence unit were found to have covered up theft and mismanage­ment of the area. Mark said that he is angry with the police, and still has night­mares about his attackers, but that he’s also glad he reported his abduction and rape to the police.

“Even though the officers were a bunch of dicks, I have no regrets about going to the hos­pital; no regrets about the S.A.N.E. units; no regrets about filing the police report; no regrets about filing complaints against the police department with the D.A.’s office — that all needed to be done,” he said.

Many friends shunned Mark after the rape, he said, which was just as traumatic.

“When someone basically says to you ‘I don’t believe you were assaulted because I don’t want to believe it’ it’s just as much an assault,” he said.

He said he’s very careful about with whom he shares the story because so many people reacted poorly when the rape first occured.

“We live in a society in which people honestly believe that it is impossible for these things to happen to men,” said Mark.

Mark said his grades at UNM, where he was enrolled at the time, declined quickly.

“I was showing up, but I wasn’t doing anything. I was keeping up with the routine,” he said.

While Mark hadn’t confided in anyone at UNM about the rape, a campus psychiatrist did notice that something was wrong and had him dropped from all of his classes, he said.

Without classes to attend, Mark said he began sleeping con­stantly and drinking excessively. He said he racked up nearly $12,000 in credit card debt just from alcohol purchases.

When things were at their very worst, his pastor let him move into the church. For Mark, spirituality is what helped him get back to reality, he said.

Mark does not know what he wants to do with himself and has lost his passion for life, but he has considered life in a monas­tery or at least doing something that will help others.

He also said that he has only recently been able to leave the house without some sort of weapon for protection.

“Until more people start coming forward to police and hospitals, and those statistics start getting reported, the social stigma will not change at all,” said Mark.

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