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Jen Sainato had been waiting for this day for a long time. 

She’d woken up early, put on her black striped suit, and drove five hours to attend the Louisville Metro Council’s public safety committee meeting. The council had called the police to answer questions about their handling of rape cases, in the wake of our story about Jen’s case

Jen stopped on the way to the hearing to pick up a fellow survivor, another woman who reported a rape to the Louisville Metro Police Department and was also still waiting for answers. 

The two women, along with Jen’s niece, arrived at City Hall together. They got on the elevator with high hopes for what they might expect from the hearing: 

“Hopefully some clarity. Accountability. And other objective, smart minds to look at things we’ve all known… the treatment of victims, shaming them, and most importantly not solving their case or getting any answers.”

J. Tyler Franklin | wfpl.org

Jen Sainato and other survivors watch Lt. Shannon Lauder’s testimony.

Jen reached for the other women’s hands as they walked into the chamber. She was among the last to arrive.

By the time she got there, the police were already settled in at the front of the room: two press people, a few men in suits, and Lt. Shannon Lauder —  the head of the special victims unit, who’d been called by the council to explain why her department clears so few rape cases by arrest, and so many “by exception.”

The eight Metro Council members in attendance were seated as well, looking out at the room from their elevated seats. And in the audience sat the survivors — women who had reported a rape to the Louisville Metro Police Department. Women who were inspired by Jen’s story to come out and seek their own answers. 

For most of them, this hearing was as close as they would get to their day in court.

Listen to the episode:


J. Tyler Franklin | wfpl.org

Jen Sainato and her niece, Zoie Pappas, after the hearing.

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Eleanor Klibanoff covered Rust Belt decline and revival in Pennsylvania. She also worked for NPR and attended the George Washington University.