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Terror of July rape haunts Gibsonton victim

BRANDON — Seven weeks after a rapist shoved a gun in her face, robbed her and sexually assaulted her, Melissa Dojka can't sleep at night.

She stays up, lights on. Windows must be covered completely. And when she gets in a car, she locks the doors right away.

Before the attack, "I never thought I had to do things like that," she said. "I have a lot of anxiety now." That might fade, she said, but the feeling that she has to be aware of her surroundings, "I don't think that will ever fade."

Dojka (pronounced Doy-ka) is one of four women raped, authorities say, in a series of violent attacks carried out on both sides of Tampa Bay from early July through mid August.

Rigoberto Moron Martinez, 20, has been named as a suspect in her attack, as well as a rape and robbery at a St. Petersburg restaurant, the aggravated assault of two 17-year-old girls, and the abduction and rape of two women at the Docks Bar and Grill in Apollo Beach.

Two others, Jose Walle, 13, and Vicente Reyes-Carbajal, 20, each face charges of sexual battery in the Docks case, as well as other charges. If convicted, all three face life in prison.

It is unusual for victims of sexual assault to speak publicly. Law enforcement officials shield their identities, and the Times has a firm rule against identifying them without their consent.

But Dojka, 24, said she came forward because it's important for victims to report these crimes. Since her attack July 3, she said she's heard from more than a half-dozen acquaintances who also have been assaulted at some point in their lives, though not all of them reported it.

"I felt it was my duty to report it — for society, for the community," she said. And if she hadn't, her attacker might "still be out there."

Another victim, one from the Apollo Beach attack, remains angry and has spent the days since the incident trying to replace her stolen identification, cell phone and even her glasses, according to her sister. The victim had no idea who ended up with her personal information, so she is looking for someplace else to live.

"She still has not returned home, and she's afraid to," said her sister, Jacey Laundree, who lives in upstate New York.

And so is her sister's roommate, who has avoided the house since the attack.

Dojka knows how they feel. She cleared out of the Gibsonton house she shared with her boyfriend the night of July 3, after two intruders jimmied open the front door and came in, guns drawn.

A man she later identified as Martinez confronted her in the bathroom as she was taking a shower, authorities say.

"Don't scream," she said he told her, "or I'll kill you." She said he marched her through the house, past her boyfriend, who had been forced at gunpoint to lie on the floor, his hands and feet bound with duct tape, to a back bedroom, where the attacker raped her.

The men robbed Dojka and Young of computer equipment and cash valued at more than $3,000.

Since the arrests last week, Martinez also has been identified as a suspect in the Aug. 3 robbery of two employees and the rape of one at the Table restaurant in downtown St. Petersburg.

St. Petersburg police identified Martinez, a former busboy who once returned to the restaurant carrying a gun, as a suspect in the robbery at the Table and put him under surveillance in Hillsborough County.

Martinez, an illegal immigrant, was picked up Aug. 5 on a misdemeanor warrant for failing to appear on a domestic battery case.

Both agencies notified Immigration and Customs Enforcement of his arrest. But because he was not charged with a felony and had not come to the attention of immigration officials before, federal officials did not put an automatic hold on him. Hours later, he posted bail and was released.

This week, U.S. Rep. Ginny Brown-Waite, R-Brooksville, asked for a federal review of how the Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office, St. Petersburg police and ICE worked together — or didn't — on Martinez.

Dojka welcomed the review but Laundree said debating immigration policy and procedures distracts attention from the victims.

"This guy needs to be put on trial and he needs to have a fair trial, even though he's not a citizen," Laundree said of Martinez. "The evidence is going to be substantial. Let's give him a trial and let's punish him to the full extent of the law, and let's put him away."

Times news researcher John Martin contributed to this report. Richard Danielson can be reached at danielson@sptimes.com or (813) 269-5311.

Terror of July rape haunts Gibsonton victim 08/26/08 [Last modified: Thursday, August 28, 2008 2:43pm]
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