Lauren Clark, a 27-year-old hairstylist, had just finished a jog in Washington D.C. when a man grabbed her from behind, slammed her into the sidewalk, and forced one hand between her legs while covering her mouth with the other. Panicked, Clark managed to claw the man’s face and briefly forced him off of her. In response, he punched her in the face, grabbed her phone, and ran away.
Clark’s attempted rapist, then 24-year-old chef Jayro A. Cruz, was caught by police just minutes later. He confessed to attacking Clark as well as another woman from earlier that night. Later, he would admit that he had also attacked at least four other women under similar circumstances. Despite assurances from detectives that Cruz would face charges of third-degree sexual abuse by force and robbery, both felony offenses, he went on to be sentenced to just 10 days of prison. He was allowed to serve his brief sentence just two days a week, so that it wouldn’t interfere with his career as one of Washington’s up-and-coming chefs.
Clark would continue to see Cruz across the city — instances that she said triggered panic attacks — and even discovered that he was cooking at restaurants and bars she had frequented. In wake of the justice system’s failure, Clark told The Washington Post, she decided to wage her own one-woman campaign to stop him from hurting others the way he had her. She passed out fliers detailing his actions, urging his employers to “do the right thing.” Soon, other women began coming forward with disturbing allegations of sexual abuse by Cruz — among them several employees at the restaurants at which he had worked.
The Washington Post’s investigation into Cruz uncovered that a number of restaurants continued to employ him, despite Clark’s attempts to inform them of his history as a serial sexual abuser. The Post also spoke to Clark about her discovery years later that probation officers hadn’t bothered to enforce Cruz’s court-mandated “extremely rigorous supervision” from a sex-offense unit — as well as how the intrepid hairstylist worked to rectify the court’s mistake.
Read the full story at The Washington Post.