ST. LOUIS – The St. Louis Circuit Attorney said she’s reopening the criminal investigation into a St. Louis Police officer accused of rape.
It’s fallout from an ongoing 5 On Your Side I-Team investigation into how some police use their jobs to pressure women for sex.
For Michelle Roesch, the year 2008 wasn’t easy.
So she got help from two St. Louis Metro police officers who were also brothers. Roesch said they called her ex, and got him to back off.
“I thought they were protecting me,” said Roesch.
But later that evening, things took a turn for the worse.
Roesch was living in a top floor apartment in south St. Louis. Below her lived the cousin of those two cops. And that night, that cousin decided to have a party.
While sitting next to one of the brothers, who was in his uniform, Roesch said he started doing something strange.
“He started checking me for needle marks. He took his hands and skimmed id down my arms, legs and feet, tried to get me to take off my shirt. I was like, ‘I’m not a drug addict,'” said Roesch.
Then she says the 6-foot-plus cop pulled her into a bathroom.
“He started with forcing himself on me,” said Roesch. “He was pulling out my hair, punching me in the face.”
Roesch said then the police officer raped her.
She also said she felt like she had no way out.
“He had the gun right there the whole time,” said Roesch.
She eventually arrived at a hospital with a swollen upper lip, bruising around her nose and the back of her neck, and with pain in her genital area.
One problem: Roesch had just started her period, so a rape kit wasn’t possible.
But even without that, her medical records show she was diagnosed as a victim of sexual assault, with a recommendation that Roesch report it. She did, according to an incident report.
“I was fearful, fearful of retaliation with police,” said Roesch.
So she filed a restraining order against the officer, stating that he had raped her and hit her. The cop signed and agreed to it.
Then she said she reported the incident to police internal affairs.
But Roesch said the circuit attorney’s office eventually gave her bad news.
“They looked at me and said ‘He’s not going to be charged.’ I said ‘Did I say something wrong, did I do something wrong? What’s going to happen when he does it again?'” said Roesch.
Roesch said she just folded into herself and stayed that way for years.
“Everybody kept telling me about #MeToo,” said Roesch.
Inspired, she said she made a decision. She began protesting outside St. Louis police headquarters with a picket sign and a bullhorn, calling out her alleged rapist.
“I did use his name, but I also had checked with law enforcement. It was my First-Amendment right,” said Roesch.
But shortly after the protests began, Roesch was hit with a restraining order. It was a type of protective order that can be easily gotten without a hearing.
In this case, it had been filed by the officer she accused of raping her. It said Roesch could no longer mention him on social media or during her protests.
She was stunned.
“I had never had one before this,” said Roesch.
But it opened the floodgates.
Soon the officer’s brother and his wife filed for and got the same sort of order.
Then, people from St. Louis and Indiana also received orders of protection against Roesch. They’re people Roesch says she’s never even meet.
At one point, Roesch had twelve restraining orders against her.
And soon, someone claimed that she violated one of the orders. Police arrested her and charged her with a felony.
“My reaction was just horror,” said Chelsea Merta, Roesch’s attorney.
Merta took a close look at the orders filed against Roesch. Her conclusion: “They’re frivolous. They filed these orders to silence her to keep her from sharing her story.”
So Merta took Roesch’s case and started getting hearings before actual judges.
Earlier this month, in St. Louis County court, Merta and Roesch were ready to face off with her accused rapist, his brother and his wife, who had all filed orders of protection against her.
“We’re doing all three at one time. So everyone’s testimony will be all at once,” said Merta of the hearing.
But in the end, none of them showed up for court and the judge revoked their orders against Roesch.
Outside the courtroom, Roesch was tearfully grateful.
“I am speaking out on behalf of all of the rape victims,” said Roesch.
But she was also defiant.
“I also want to add you’re not above the law and you can’t and will not silence me anymore.”
Since then, Merta has gotten nearly all of the other protective orders against Roesch thrown out in court. But Roesch still faces felony charges for supposedly violating some of those restraining orders.
In the meantime, the lawyer for the accused officer tells us her client was previously cleared of any allegations and had even passed a lie detector test.