She was so excited last night that she didn't get much sleep, but the sexual assault victim known for a decade only as "Jane Doe" in the infamous Haidl Gang Rape case delivered a potent, uplifting speech today at the 4th annual Orange County Victims' Rights March and Rally in Santa Ana.
Sharing the stage with Los Angeles-based U.S. Attorney Andre Birotte, District Attorney Tony Rackauckas, Santa Ana Police Chief Paul Walters and state Assemblyman Chris Norby, a poised Doe announced her first name, Alisa, and declared herself "a survivor."
"Today, I am no longer a lost, scared little girl," said Doe. "I'm no longer ashamed of who I am or what happened to me. Instead, I can say that I am proud of the woman I have become."
(I'm proud of you too.)
Doe earned several spontaneous rounds of applause during her remarks and won the praise of Rackauckas, who said that he, like Superior Court Judge Francisco P. Briseno--the trial judge in the Haidl case that garnered international attention, was in awe of Doe's strength and courage.
Don Haidl--a dishonest San Bernardino County used car salesman turned ultra wealthy Orange County assistant sheriff at the time of the sexual assault orchestrated largely by his brat son, Greg--paid millions of dollars for a win-at-all-costs legal defense that worked overtime to intimidate a 16-year-old Doe into dropping the case.
Donna Bjoin, the sister of 1983 murder victim Katherine O'Connell, told the crowd of several hundred at the county's Old Red Courthouse that crime victims can't "give up hope" because, like in her sister's case, justice is sometimes slow. Homicide prosecutor Dan Wagner won a conviction against O'Connell's killer in 2011.
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In his own remarks, Rackauckas blasted "dishonest" political efforts to weaken California's Three Strikes law, fight tough anti-sex offender laws and eliminate the death penalty.
"We have learned over and over again that we can never let our guard down and we must continue our fight," the DA said.