It took 27 days in jail to help persuade her to come to court, but a reluctant juvenile rape victim can now brag that her testimony helped a Sacramento jury convict a career criminal of sexual assault.
"She was very brave," Deputy District Attorney Alan Van Stralen said of the 17-year-old girl who was detained in juvenile hall to ensure her appearance in court against Frank William Rackley Sr. "She came here to court, and she testified based on her feeling it was the right thing to do. I thought she was very, very courageous, coming to court and facing her rapist and testifying in the manner that she did."
The Sacramento Superior Court jury found Rackley, 37, guilty on Monday of raping the girl. They also convicted him of rape and two other sexual assault charges on a second victim. Both the 17-year-old and the other victim, 30, had been working as prostitutes on Watt Avenue when Rackley picked them up.
Rackley faces a potential life term in prison under California's "three-strikes" law when he is sentenced on June 22 by Judge Greta Curtis Fall.
The names of both women are being withheld by The Bee because they are sexual assault victims.
The 17-year-old's case generated national publicity last month when it was learned that two judges ordered her detained, at the request of the Sacramento DA's office, to make sure she showed up in court at Rackley's trial. She had failed to make two previous appearances against him, and Sacramento prosecutors were forced to dismiss and then refile charges.
Although state law said she had to appear in court, it also maintained that she could not, as an alleged sexual assault victim, be forced to testify. In the end, she chose to tell the jury what Rackley did to her on July 22, and the panel believed her.
Van Stralen called her performance on the witness stand "fantastic."
Assistant Public Defender Richard Berson attacked the credibility of both victims, and juror William Anderson, 70, said it took a few moments for the jury to assess their lifestyles before coming around to the guilty verdicts.
"There were a few who felt they couldn't really be telling the truth," Anderson said, because the victims were prostitutes. "When we hashed it out and everything, they came around and felt, yes, they can tell the truth."
Anderson said the girl lied to the police when she reported the attack, saying she had been kidnapped from a light-rail station when in fact she was working a Watt Avenue stroll as a prostitute.
"But when it came down to the actual charges, we believed what she said," he said.
Judge Lawrence G. Brown on April 16 allowed the 17-year-old to go free after her attorney, Lisa M. Franco, and the District Attorney's Office worked out an arrangement for her to wear a GPS monitoring device.
Since her release, she has been placed in a foster home that appears to be working out well for her, according to Franco. The lawyer said her client has since enrolled in school, is taking classes and now wants to go to college.
"It was a tragic situation, but she is a strong girl and is recovering from this," Franco said.
Franco said she does not know if the 27 days in jail were "worth it" for the girl, but "it's definitely something that has caused her to get to a better place."