One Woman's Story of Prison Rape, and Recovery

Marilyn Shirley, 49, who was sent to a Texas prison on a drug-conspiracy conviction, recalls being raped by a guard. The guard was later convicted of the crime. Today, Marilyn works as an advocate for prison-rape victims.

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TONY COX, host:

And now, the personal story of a prison rape survivor. Forty-nine-year-old Marilyn Shirley is a Texas mother of two and a stepmother to five. In 1998, she was sentenced to prison along with her husband for conspiracy to distribute drugs. The charges were brought when a customer at the auto body shop they owned try to pay its bill with methamphetamine. Marilyn got a four-year sentence, but was freed after 32 months for good behavior.

But she says being a model prisoner did not stop an officer from raping her in the middle of the night. Here's Marilyn Shirley in her own words.

Ms. MARILYN SHIRLEY: When he called me to the officers' station, I had to put my sweat pants on, you know, to go down there in the middle of the night, which is basically what we slept in. But when I got down there, he locked the door behind me.

The shades were drawn, which that usually isn't like that. And I said, Miller, what's going on? His name was Mike Miller. And he just said sit down and shut up. He picked up the telephone. He said, if a lieutenant heads over toward the camp, give me the signal. And he hung the phone up. He tell me to stand up.

And I thought he was fixing to handcuff me. Instead, he jerks me over into a storage room. I now have a (unintelligible). You know, I'm thinking, is this a joke? what's going on here? Just completely dumbfounded to what was fixing to happen. And then, I swear, his eyes just went to stun. And he said, oh yeah, it's going to happen.

For the next seven months, I really believed that I was in shock the whole time. The night before I got out, I told a senior officer that was the head of the camp at that time, and she walked down there with me the next morning when I turned the sweat pants over to the camp administrator. The FBI came in and retrieved the sweat pants from the camp administrator, and then they went to a laboratory.

It took almost a year for the sweat pants, the DNA to come back. You know, it just takes a long time. You just almost think that it's not going to happen. And then one day the FBI called me and they said, well, we've got good news. They found his DNA on your sweat pants.

And see, by this time, the civil case against Mike Miller himself came up before the criminal case. So, a jury awarded me $4 million in the civil suit against him, which he doesn't have $4 million. I'll never see a penny of that. But I won that case. And then, right after that, the criminal case came up, and he got 12 1/2 years on five different counts.

I sit in wonder - if I had not kept in the sweat pants, would they have believed me? Would've it went this far? You don't need to be breaking along going to prison. Thanks the main thing. But be aware. Know that you do have rights.

COX: Marilyn Shirley is now an advocate. She spends much of her time writing members of Congress to help other victims of prison rape.

(Soundbite of music)

COX: Just ahead, in the Roundtable, a swift rebuff from the U.S. Senate for Attorney General Alberto Gonzales. And later, a Web site that shows you the healthiest choices for dining out.

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