Rape in a Small Town

The story of a 15-year-old girl raped by a popular classmate and of the devastating aftermath for her, her family, and her town. Originally published in the Providence Journal (Providence, RI), in 2003.

By Kate Bramson, with Bob Thayer (photos) and Mimi Burkhardt (editor)

The click-click of the handcuffs echoed in the courtroom as they clamped around the teenager's wrists.

The girl who had once been his friend turned to her mother and whispered, "How many years is he going to be gone?"

Four years, her mother replied.

"That's not enough," Laura said.

Laura's mother likes to fix things, make them right. She couldn't fix what had happened to her daughter, but she had dreamed of the moment when the handcuffs would snap shut.

Then people would finally believe Laura, she had thought. Then, her family could begin the journey back to normal.

But the moment didn't measure up at all. Not by a long shot.