WFAE's Sarah Delia and Marshall Terry discuss She Says, an investigative podcast that follows the journey of a sexual assault survivor learning to navigate the criminal justice system.
MARSHALL TERRY: WFAE’s investigative podcast, She Says, tells the story of a sexual assault victim – and the frustrations she experiences in searching for her attacker and dealing with Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police detectives. Here’s Linda, the name we’ve given her for the podcast:
LINDA: And it’s just been an absolute nightmare, an absolute nightmare, so I don’t know what’s going to happen, I really don’t at this point…
TERRY: The 5th episode of She Says is available now. Joining me is Sarah Delia, the host and lead reporter of She Says. For people who are new to She Says and are just hearing about the podcast now, can you give us a brief summary about what this podcast is about?
DELIA: Linda was sexually assaulted in Charlotte three years ago and today is actually the anniversary of the assault.
She had a lot of questions about the investigation around how her assault was being handled and just the case in general. I’ve been speaking to her for over a year at this point and following her as she navigates the criminal justice system. A key part of Linda’s story is that she believes she figured out who this stranger was who assaulted her this night in June of 2015. Through some details she remembers from that night, she goes online and searches for this person that she believes is her attacker and she believes she finds him and gives that information to the police.
In episode 1, we lay out all the details from that night of the actual assault to the first interview she has with the police. We sort of lay out what I’ve come to call the winding road a sexual assault survivor must walk in order to find some justice. So if you are new to the podcast, start from the beginning.
TERRY: A big part of this podcast is taking a closer look at the relationship a victim has with the officer working his or her case. And in Linda’s case she feels very frustrated by some of the interactions she has with the detective. So she actually starts to record her conversations with police, can you tell us more about why she decided to that?
DELIA: First thing I want to point out because laws are different in various states, in North Carolina you can legally record someone while you’re talking to them without their knowledge in most situations.
And she starts doing this because she wants to take notes about her case. She feels like she’s been told conflicting information and she wants to have a record of what she’s being told. In doing that, she actually captures some really emotional interactions between herself and the officer working her case.
In episode 4, she reflects on how hard it’s been to navigate her relationship with law enforcement.
LINDA (from episode 4): I don't want to upset her because I don't — and it shouldn't be this way and I hope it's not. But, you know, I'm afraid if I ask is something that would be upsetting to her, that that might affect — you know I hate to think that I don't want that to be the case. But, but I'm just speaking to how I feel, I'm afraid to push it.
DELIA: We did speak to the police for this story and include their perspective throughout this series on how Linda’s case was handled. And we should also note that they were given access to the sensitive audio between Linda and the detectives before this podcast was launched.
TERRY: What can you tell us about episode 5 that is available now?
DELIA: In episode 5 we bring back a familiar voice for people who have been following the podcast, Harold Medlock he was with the CMPD for over 2 decades before he became chief of police of the Fayetteville PD. He’s now retired, but as police chief Medlock publically apologized in 2015 for the destruction of 333 sexual assault kits that were found during an audit of the Fayetteville PD. These were kits from cases from 1995-2008. I should point out that Medlock was not in Fayetteville during the time of their destruction.
We get into more details about Medlock’s decision to apologize – and the effect it had on victims. The Fayetteville PD with the help of a local rape crisis center was able to contact 79% of the victims whose rape kits were destroyed.
HAROLD MEDLOCK (from episode 5): But at the end of the day, if that had been one of my family members who had who had been sexually assaulted or raped, I would have expected someone to apologize for that mistake.
DELIA: Also we left listeners with a bit of a cliff hanger last week so we take a detailed look into an important development in Linda’s case.
TERRY: What can you share about what’s coming next on She Says?
DELIA: Our next episode is going to be driven by our listeners so if you’ve been listening and you have a question about the yearlong investigation we’ve done or want to know more about a particular episode or have question about the crime lab or the police, we want to hear from you. You can leave us a voicemail with your question at 704-448-6511 or write us an email at SheSays@wfae.org. We’ll be answering your questions next week.
TERRY: You can listen to She Says on the NPR One app and anywhere you usually find podcasts, also at wfae.org/shesays. Sarah Delia is the host and lead reporter of She Says, Sarah thank you for taking the time.
DELIA: Thanks, Marshall.