“Unbelievable” Gives Hope and Justice to Marie Adler

Marie Adler, played by Kaitlyn Dever, sits in the hospital after her assault. Photo courtesy inlander.com.

The number of reported rapes that yield false reports is shockingly small, counter to what media might portray it to be. Netflix’s newest true crime series follows one of these few false report cases, but, of course, the case isn’t all what it’s made out to be. 

Foster child Marie Adler was just 18-years-old when her apartment was broken into in the middle of the night and she was forcibly raped. She quickly reported the crime, and gave her first statement to police not long after the event itself. Still shaken up, Adler gave police conflicting reports as to what exactly happened. Each report differed slightly in key details to the rape and the crime scene itself was spotless. There was no sign of forced entry and both weapons used belonged to Adler herself. 

Between the inconsistencies with the report and the textbook clean crime scene, police were led to believe that she had never actually been raped but rather wanted the attention that events such as these would give her. 

Adler was crushed. Her life had taken a serious toll from both the rape and the conviction by the police. She struggled to focus at her job and began to participate in socially reckless behavior like smoking and drinking underage. She even once attempted to steal from a local gas station. Adler was constantly paranoid and feared any man that she came across that even slightly resembled the man who took advantage of her. 

Meanwhile, police detectives Karen Duvall and Grace Rasmussen were brought together across jurisdiction lines after discovering the striking similarities between their rape cases. Together, they struggled to find the man responsible for these rapes and came up dry time and time again. Every crime scene was clean of DNA and showed no sign of forced entry and the perpetrator wore a mask, preventing any of the victims from getting a good look at him. 

Eventually the detectives found the man they were looking for and he was sentenced to life in prison. Raiding the criminals home, they discovered that he was one to take “trophies” from each of his victims and had a fetish of sorts with taking pictures of each of his victims while they were tied up. At his house officers found numerous bags of women’s underwear and a hard drive full of pictures of each of the known victims. But, one set of photos belonged to someone unfamiliar to detectives. 

The set of photos contained a picture of the victim next to her ID, telling police that this mystery victim was Marie Adler. Duvall and Rasmussen immediately called her local police station and explained that they had caught a man who they believed had raped Adler. 

After Adler heard the news herself from the same police officer who accused and charged her with false reporting, she sued the city of Lynwood, WA and its police division for $150,000 and won. 

I couldn’t have been more impressed with this series. The story is such a great example of the damage that rape can have on someones life but also the true rarity of false reports. Following the series premier, reports from Adler herself said that she felt true relief and closure watching the series and applauded Netflix. 

The characters were well thought out and carefully scripted. For example, Adler’s foster parents didn’t believe her report either, but weren’t villainized in the film but were rather made out to be concerned parents who just wanted the best for their child. The police officers, Duvall and Rasmussen, were two tough women who, at first didn’t work well together, put aside their differences to solve a case they were both passionate about. The show made sure to account for the effects these kinds of cases have on law enforcement, too. The detectives were shown researching for hours, working on countless sleepless nights and even neglecting their own personal lives to find who had violated these young women. 

If you’re sensitive to images or scenes of rape I would still suggest you watch the show, just maybe with a close friend or relative. There are some disturbing scenes, but the closure and relief associated with the incarceration scene are powerful and give hope to those affected by similar events that the sun will shine again, and justice will be served.

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