Rape victim gets justice 11 years after assault - Action News 5 - Memphis, Tennessee

Rape victim gets justice 11 years after assault

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Because she is a rape victim, her identity will not be revealed. For the purpose of sharing her story, we will refer to her as LaShay. Because she is a rape victim, her identity will not be revealed. For the purpose of sharing her story, we will refer to her as LaShay.
Even though she had to wait more than 10 years for her rapist to be convicted, the victim hopes others might see her story and be inspired to stay strong. Even though she had to wait more than 10 years for her rapist to be convicted, the victim hopes others might see her story and be inspired to stay strong.
Jerald Jefferson was arrested. His DNA swab matched LaShay's rape kit results. Jerald Jefferson was arrested. His DNA swab matched LaShay's rape kit results.
MEMPHIS, TN -

(WMC-TV) - A rape kit done more than a decade ago helped to find justice for one victim in Shelby County. That victim is now encouraging others to pursue justice.

Even though she had to wait more than 10 years for her rapist to be convicted, the victim hopes others might see her story and be inspired to stay strong.

Because she is a rape victim, her identity will not be revealed. For the purpose of sharing her story, we will refer to her as LaShay.

"It was during school," she said.

The high school senior was kidnapped from Trezevant High School on October 4, 2002. She was driven around the city, then raped.

Like thousands of others, LaShay had to go to the rape crisis center for the criminal investigation.

"You're laid out on a table. They put your feet up in stirrups, you know, and you're there forever. And it's not fun," said LaShay, whose rape kit sat on a shelf for two years before it was tested.

Even then the results did not match anyone. Years passed with no justice.

"It was hard. I brushed it under the rug. I did. And I moved on with my life," she said. "I went to college. Got married. I just kept going."

Then, Jerald Jefferson was arrested. His DNA swab matched LaShay's rape kit results.

August 2011, he was charged. But by that time, LaShay was not sure she wanted to testify.

"Nine years had passed. It was just something that was part of my life. I let it go," she explained.

Ultimately, she changed her mind. And Jefferson now faces between 15 and 25 years in prison after he was convicted as charged on Friday, which happened to be LaShay's birthday.

"It was the best gift ever, I can say that," she said.

It was closure after 11 long years.

LaShay says she feels for others who are still waiting, whose rape kits may be among the 12,000 in Memphis that have yet to be tested.

"Just keep fighting. Just if something happens to you like it happened to me, just keep fighting to get it done," said LaShay. "I have faith that it's gonna get better. So I can tell all the women keep your head up and keep fighting. Don't let a year go by. Just keep pushing the issue because eventually you're going to be heard."

DNA from a second person came back in those results, too. But it has not matched anyone yet. If it ever does, LaShay says she will go through another trial to get another conviction.

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