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Rape Victim Fights Back and Takes Story Public : Crime: Woman breaks a taboo and spurs community to act. Officials laud her 'tremendous display of courage.'

January 01, 1995|TONY PERRY | TIMES STAFF WRITER

The publicity surrounding the Pacific Beach case helped make it a priority with the Police Department, according to Sanders and Sgt. Joanne Welter, who supervises the sex crimes unit. "Kim had a lot to do with that because she was very vocal," Welter said.

Police officials assigned a third detective to the case, authorized overtime and gave the case priority at the DNA laboratory, ahead of some murder cases.

A few weeks later, in mid-January, police made a startling announcement: They had arrested Kenneth Bogard, 36, a popular guitarist and leader of the reggae/Caribbean/hip-hop band Dr. Chico and the Island Sounds, on charges of raping or assaulting Caldwell and six other young women (including one woman on two occasions). Bogard has pleaded not guilty.

Reporters discovered that Bogard, despite his public acclaim for doing charity concerts for such worthy causes as providing services for sexually abused children, had a history of indecent exposure and lewd conduct convictions in California and New Jersey.

Prosecutors say DNA evidence from semen and saliva links Bogard to several rapes. They hope to link him to the others by showing a pattern of bizarre behavior in which the rapist stalked and attacked his victims but then acted solicitously and inquired about their well-being and sexual satisfaction.

Alexander said the victims' description of the rapist's behavior in the Pacific Beach case is in keeping with what the center's research has found: Rape suspects fit no particular profile, are not all ominous-looking villains, and often have normal relationships with a wife or girlfriend while stalking and attacking other women.

In one significant way, however, the Pacific Beach rapes are atypical. In 78% of rapes, Alexander said, the victim knows her attacker, and in only 22% of rapes is the attacker a stranger.

As Bogard has remained in jail awaiting trial, Caldwell has continued to speak out in favor of rape victims reporting their crimes and being active participants in the investigation and prosecution of their attackers.

She has been given awards for heroism by two local groups. She is featured in a cover story in this month's San Diego magazine.

Bogard's trial on 40 felony charges is set to begin soon, and as Caldwell did during the preliminary hearing, she is prepared to testify without flinching and to fix Bogard with a contemptuous glare. And again she will ask the media to show her face.

Initially, Caldwell had tried to temporize. Her first television interview, at which she was accompanied by her father, was done in the shadows, with the reporter referring to her only as "Donna, the Pacific Beach rapist's seventh victim" in the previous 12 months.

When Caldwell saw the interview she recoiled at the thought that women who have been attacked should have to hide.

"It was so wrong," she said in a calm but assertive voice. " I looked like the criminal. I hadn't done anything. I'm not Donna. I'm not a statistic. My name is Kim Caldwell. This man raped me. He's the one who's at fault, not me. He's the one who should be ashamed, not me."

Her family members, who had warned her that going public would only make matters worse, have come to admire her actions. She has refused to flee from her house or shy away from friendships with men, as many rape victims do.

"She told me, 'I want to help catch this guy. I can't just hide and be a cowering victim,' " said her father, George Ward Caldwell, a nurse at the Atascadero State Hospital for the criminally insane.

"She's got a lot of guts," said her uncle, Charles Brantley, a lieutenant in the gang detail of the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department.

Before the rape, Brantley said, his niece was "a happy-go-lucky young woman, living the beach lifestyle, not at all a Gloria Steinem-type" in terms of social activism.

As the Jan. 17 date for Bogard's trial approaches, Caldwell describes her emotions toward her alleged attacker as "beyond rage, beyond anger, beyond fury into a place where there is no language, beyond the red into the black."

Prosecutor Dan Lamborn calls the Pacific Beach serial rapes "the weirdest case" he has seen because of the rapist's combination of threats and patronizing behavior toward his victims, including tucking them in bed and warning them to lock their doors and fix their windows.

The victims, Lamborn said, run the gamut, from those who have told their families and friends that they were raped to those who do not want anyone to know.

Bogard's public defender, Michael Popkins, said he plans a vigorous defense based on the controversy about DNA evidence and inconsistencies in the victims' testimony.

He said he does not believe that the media attention given to Caldwell will hurt his client's right to a fair trial, although he may ask prospective jurors during jury selection whether they have seen her on television or read about her in the newspapers.

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