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N4T Investigators: Justice Denied?

TUCSON – A woman is hoping for justice after she said her husband raped her in 1993.

Lola Wilkerson said she immediately called Tucson police.

“And [the officer] looked at me, and he said, ‘There is no crime here. No crime means no case. No case means no case number, sweetheart,’” Wilkerson said. “And he got in his car and drove away.”

She said the abuse continued.

“By the time I left,” she said, “I was a broken person.”

This year a friend encouraged her to call police again. Detectives opened a case and gathered new evidence and interviews.

Investigators hit a dead end. It was not because of a lack of evidence. It was not because the case was so old. It was not because it was her husband.

The case could not continue because it was reported in 1993.

“If I had never reported it,” Wilkerson said, “they would have pushed this through.”

Richard Lougee is a criminal defense attorney who has spent much of his career specializing in sex crimes. As of 2001 there is no statute of limitations on serious violent crimes like rape. But Lougee said the statute of limitations started in 1993, only because of the report to police.

“If she had not reported it and simply had reported it, say, to a therapist in 2002, a criminal case could have started in 2018,” Lougee said.

Wilkerson said the detective was also heartbroken.

“He is an amazing officer,” she said. “He is clearly compassionate and passionate about helping survivors and victims. He has absolutely done everything that a victim could ask for.”

Wilkerson said she was 15, and her husband was 18 when they started their relationship. Police also investigated the possibility of a crime for having a relationship with an underage girl. They hit a dead end on that investigation also.

“I know that my situation is a really horrible one,” Wilkerson said, “but I want to encourage victims to find the determination to come forward.”

Sam Salzwedel

Sam Salzwedel is an investigative reporter at News 4 Tucson – KVOA.

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