Editor’s note: This story contains descriptions of sexual assault and graphic violence. If you are a rape victim and need assistance, please call RAINN at 800-856-HOPE.
CHICAGO — After surviving a traumatic brain injury and coming out of a coma, an 18-year-old Polish woman who was stalked and raped in a brutal attack in West Town last summer spent months in a rehab facility where she relearned how to walk and talk, prosecutors said Tuesday.
Her alleged attacker, Rufus Carson, 38, rejected a plea deal in court Tuesday, telling Judge Thaddeus Wilson he’d like to take the case to trial. Wilson told Carson the plea deal, which offered a 30-year sentence, would be a “gift.”
“I’m not gonna listen to that no more,” Carson told the judge.
Instead, Carson has asked the state to consider a 25-year plea deal, according to the judge. He would not be eligible for parole and would have to serve 85 percent of the sentence; ultimately the victim will weigh in on whether the state should offer the lighter sentence.
If the case goes to trial, Carson faces up to 150 years in prison, said prosecutor Mikki Miller. A pre-trial hearing was scheduled for Dec. 16 and a trial for Carson was scheduled Jan. 24.
Around 7 a.m. Aug. 26, 2018, the woman — a Polish teenager who was staying with family in Chicago for the summer — was walking from the CTA Chicago Blue Line “L” station to the Starbucks at the corner of Ogden and Grand avenues in West Town.
Miller told Wilson video surveillance from the CTA and neighboring properties depicts part of the attack. CTA video footage “clearly” shows Carson’s face, as well as his outfit: a Chicago Bears hat, a white T-shirt and dark jeans, she said.
Inside the station, Miller said, video footage shows Carson pacing back and forth before running down the platform and chasing the victim up the escalator.
Outside the train station, a security camera affixed to a neighboring property shows Carson grabbing the victim, putting her into a “chokehold” and dragging her into an alley, “clearly against her will,” Miller said.
While the footage does not visually capture what happened next, the camera’s audio component recorded the attack, Miller said.
The audio feed begins with about 10 minutes of the victim screaming, as well as a “dull banging,” which Miller said was likely the noise of the victim’s head banging against the concrete ground. During the attack, Carson beat the victim repeatedly and raped her multiple times, Miller said.
After 10 minutes, video footage resumes, showing Carson standing on Ogden Avenue, “adjusting his pants” and looking both ways, Miller said.
Carson then disappears from view again and rapes and beats the woman for an additional 10 minutes, Miller said.
After the attack, Carson returned to the Blue Line, where additional CTA footage showed him taking off his shirt, sweating and appearing “out of breath,” Miller said.
Witnesses found the victim unconscious and near death about an hour and a half later.
For a brief few seconds, the victim regained consciousness and told an EMT, “I was raped,” before slipping back into unconsciousness.
She then spent several days in a coma at Northwestern Hospital, where she was treated for traumatic brain injuries, shattered facial bones and lesions.
After that, she spent several months in a rehabilitation facility, where she relearned how to walk and talk.
Her earliest attempts at speaking were screams of terror while lying in a fetal position, Miller said.
In addition to video and audio footage capturing the attack, Miller said Carson’s DNA matched the rape kit. When he was arrested 24 hours later, the victim’s blood was on his clothes, Miller said.
As Miller detailed the facts of the case, the victim’s family members and a handful of West Town neighbors wiped tears from their eyes.
Stephanie Schatz, a neighbor, suggested the neighbors come back next time wearing the same color shirt as a show of solidarity with the victim, who they’ve dubbed “Warrior Woman.”
Julie Sawicki said she was devastated Carson rejected the deal.
His decision will force the victim, whose family Sawicki knows personally, to relive her trauma and face Carson in court.
“I hope he never sees freedom again,” she said.
The victim’s extended family declined to be interviewed on Tuesday. She and her immediate family are currently in Poland, but will need to return to the United States for the trial.
Carson faces three felony charges for aggravated criminal sexual assault, aggravated kidnapping and aggravated battery causing great bodily harm.
Carson has five prior felony convictions including two for burglary, two for narcotics with intent to sell and one for possessing a stolen vehicle, police said.
He also has a pending charge in McHenry County from when he was accused of holding his penis in front of his girlfriend’s 11-year-old daughter, Miller said.
Carson was out on bond when the West Town attack took place.
In the last year, hundreds of neighbors have stepped up financially to help the victim.
As of Thursday, the GoFundMe page started for “Warrior Woman” has raised $26,658 from a collective 575 donors has been raised for the woman and her family.
This is a developing stories. Check back for updates.