Sarah Walker's doing a rare and brave thing -- going public as an alleged victim of a sexual assault.
Walker wants any people who believe they're also victims of Lee Lubonne -- the self-described "sex pig" currently jailed on suspicion of two sexual assaults -- to come forward to the Maricopa County Sheriff's Office. MCSO has said Lubonne, a 44-year-old father of two, "may" be a suspected serial sexual predator, and detectives have said there's a "possibility" more victims are out there.
With that, Walker also tells New Times about her unusual story up to this point, which began with drawing the ire of Sheriff Joe Arpaio.
Walker was arrested in February, along with her husband and another man, in an undercover MCSO bestiality bust publicized by Arpaio in one of his infamous press releases -- which has since been removed from MCSO's online archives.
Walker says when she found out what she was being accused of, she asked one of the deputies whether he'd be feeding the story to the media.
"He put his hands up and said, 'Well it won't be me that puts it in the news,'" Walker says.
Walker and her husband have pleaded not guilty, and Walker explained the circumstances surrounding the case, maintaining her innocence.
After her arrest, though, she says she and her family became the targets or ridicule and degradation from her neighbors, her friends, and strangers across the country -- even strangers from other countries. Walker and her husband lost their jobs, and were forced to relocate their kids.
"It seems that just when I thought I could endure no more, and had lost everything, I was wrong," she says. "I was finally targeted and raped by someone who saw my news story and judged my life. The man of course posed as a client and contacted me...through my [photography website]. I was happy to get any kind of work to make ends meet. It was one of the first times in three months that I had left the house by myself. I had become recluse and rarely left my house. Once again, I was faced with the unimaginable...an event where I was again terrified, scared, humiliated and degraded."
Walker says she was brutally sexually assaulted, and eventually got away by telling her alleged attacker, Lubonne, that her ankle monitor would lead the cops straight to him.
Still, Lubonne almost got away with it -- and possibly another sexual assault, which detectives say was committed against a 15-year-old girl in March -- because of Walker's apprehension to dealing with MCSO again:
"I was extremely afraid to come forward to law enforcement. I had such a traumatic previous experience with the sheriff's office (rude degrading officers) and told my husband I didn't think I could report it. I was on my way home and crying, not knowing what to do. I felt terrified of being treated with any level of scrutiny or disrespect. When I called 911, I only made it part way into the conversation before hanging up out of fear. I had decided to live with it privately. When I pulled into my driveway, the cops were there waiting. They had found my address from the phone call and came to check on me. At that point, it took a kind, supportive officer to reassure me I would not be traumatized again. I agreed to invasive forensic testing and lengthy interviews in order to bring the man to justice. In the end, when I found there was another victim and possibly more, I was so happy I had the courage to speak out. I felt for the first time something good had come out of utter disaster.
Walker wants us to make it clear that she says she was treated very respectfully and sensitively by MCSO sex-crime detectives, unlike her previous encounter with the boys in beige, when she was the suspect.
While she certainly doesn't blame Arpaio or MCSO for what happened -- Lubonne's an alleged rapist either way -- she did make some get it together comments, speaking to Arpaio's lust for publicity.
"I suppose Joe's agenda at that time was making a statement to Craigslist," she said, speaking of Arpaio taking the opportunity with her case to write letters to the CEO of Craigslist. "Too bad an entire family has now been devastated for his own gratification and media whoring."
Certainly, no one wanted things to turn out the way they did, but Walker's trying to make something positive happen out of it.
"I have learned to reach out to rape victims that are filled with hurt and shame," she says. "I have shown my face to encourage women that there is nothing to be ashamed about as a victim. I am determined to make something good come out of the 'disaster" of my recent life."
A Sheriff's Office spokesman told us Tuesday afternoon that no one else had come forward claiming to be a victim of Lubonne, and it appears MCSO told the Arizona Republic the same thing yesterday -- although the Sheriff's Office says a few people have come forward with information about the case.
If you do have information or believe you're a victim of Lubonne, hit up the Sheriff's Office at 602-876-1011. Some people would appreciate it.
"I do support the purpose of the media in this case and hope more victims come forward," Walker says. "I have shown my face in order to send the message that there is no shame in being a victim of sexual assault, and that most importantly it needs to be reported immediately for them to gather enough evidence."