Failed justice

Woman hid GoPro camera in a teddy bear and recorded her boyfriend making a chilling confession

Rae Florek. (YouTube / Newsy)

One day in 2013, Rae Florek, a Minnesota woman, learned something positively chilling and unexpected. Her boyfriend admitted to her in a phone conversation that he had raped her while she slept. Two times in one night. Florek was battling throat cancer at the time and took some heavy medication to neutralize nerve damage pain caused by her cancer treatments. It would knock her out cold.

Randy Vannet had called Florek that day looking for sex. Florek, feeling unwell, said she wasn’t up for sex, but offered to make him lunch instead. That’s when Vannet told Florek that he “taken” her twice while she was sleeping one recent evening. The admission set Florek on a legal odyssey that resulted in a vain quest for justice that boggles the mind.

Unsettled by what she’d just learned, she went to her local police department, the Itasca County Sheriff’s Office. But she was left feeling uneasy by the officer she spoke with having referred to her alleged attacker simply as “Randy.” She decided to take matters into her own hands. Florek bought a little GoPro camera and then cut open the stomach of a stuffed teddy bear she kept in her bedroom, and made her own makeshift hidden camera. When her boyfriend came to visit, she pressed the record button and captured the exchange. What the camera caught was chilling and graphic in nature.

“You’re beautiful when you’re crashed and I’m fucking you,” Vannet is heard saying on the tape.

“That has to be disgusting,” Florek protests.

“No it isn’t. It’s beautiful!” he responds. “God, get over it!” He then went on to admit that he had helped himself to her body while she was unconscious.

Florek brought the video tape to police. An investigator from the Itasca County Sheriff’s Office then interrogated Vannett, who again implicated himself in graphic and startling terms. “Some time in the night,” he’s heard saying on the police tape, “like I have many times before, I wake up. And I have a hard on, and I slide into her again. It isn’t like this is anything new or different. We had sex, and then after a while — after we were sleeping, I slipped into her again.”

Even with this stunning admission made to a police officer and recorded on tape, police declined to press charges and so did prosecutors, worrying that it would be impossible to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that a rape had occurred.

“Under the definition for rape in Minnesota, it clearly states that if somebody is physically helpless, they can’t consent,” Ellen Tholen, a Minnesota attorney who has been critical of the decision to not pursue charges against Vannett. Vannett has over the years repeatedly denied ever having raped Florek.

With no criminal charges coming, Florek sought justice in civil court and, earlier this year, won some small measure of justice at what was described as a “date rape” civil trial. Jurors ruled that Vannett hadn’t committed battery, but did intentionally sexually penetrate her while she was physically helpless. She was awarded $5,000 but is still carrying the emotional scars of the ordeal. Florek’s story emerges as part of a sweeping investigation carried out by Pro Publica, Newsy and Reveal, which examined how some police departments are misleading the public about how many rape cases are “cleared” — something many believe is synonymous with “solved.” And that just is not the case.

Watch the interview with Florek below.

Read the full story at Pro Publica.

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