When an 18-year-old woman in Washington state reported that she was raped, police didn’t believe her. They charged her with filing a false police report. Her life was upended, and her rapist remained free to victimize other women. Ultimately, two detectives in Colorado identified and caught the rapist.
As reported by Ken Armstrong and T. Christian Miller in their Pulitzer Prize-winning stories about the case for ProPublica and The Marshall Project, the case exposed what can go wrong when police fail to take victims seriously and police departments don’t work together.
Armstrong and Miller also wrote a book about the case, for which they received a grant from the Fund for Investigative Journalism to help cover costs, including additional interviews and records requests.
The story Armstrong and Miller uncovered has been used by law enforcement agencies nationwide for training programs. Advocates and leaders in the field credit the reporting for educating criminal justice professionals and the broader public alike.
The articles and book were adapted for a limited series on Netflix, “Unbelievable,” that premiered in the fall of 2019. Netflix reported that in its first month, the series garnered 32 million views, making it one of the streaming platform’s most-watched series of the year. In 2020, the series won a prestigious Peabody Award, with the jurors noting that it “serves as a model for how storytellers can implore society to believe women, but also how to shift the focus in the way we talk about rape.”