Kevin Driscoll was sitting In a lecture hall before the first session of his communications class at Portland Community College in Oregon when a cute girl in the seat behind him tapped him on the shoulder. At six feet five and 230 pounds, Driscoll is intimidating physically, but he has an approachable, slightly goofy manner.
"I know you from somewhere," she said. "You used to live in Redmond, right?" Driscoll panicked and abruptly turned around without answering her question, just as class began. For the first hour of the lecture, he heard a hum in place of the instructor's voice. If this girl knew him from his former hometown, it could be for only one reason. Later, during a break, when she approached and told him she'd been texting someone else from Redmond during class, he knew what they must have been saying.
Almost two and a half years earlier, on a Saturday morning in January 2009, Driscoll was home getting ready to go to a boat show with his fiancée, Torrey Dunn, and her two kids. He wanted to check out accessories for a 19-foot Maxum ski boat he'd recently bought, adding to a toy collection that included an 1130CC Harley V-Rod and a pair of Polaris snowmobiles. As he was packing the car, Driscoll got a call on his cell phone. "I don't know if you know who this is or not," the caller said, "but, um, this is the girl from the other night." He remembered her as the pale brunette with the big smile he'd picked up two nights earlier at the Tumble Inn, a dive bar a couple of miles from his home in Redmond. They talked for a few minutes. The woman said she was in a relationship and was freaked out about contracting an STD. Driscoll assured her that he was clean but promised he'd get tested again. "Like, why didn't you just stop, like, when I was trying to tell you no?" she casually added. "Well, you didn't say no," he responded. Soon the woman wished Driscoll a good day, and he hung up, perplexed. He got everyone in the car and started to drive, but he didn't get far—a police car pulled him over a few blocks away, in front of Pappy's Pizzeria. Moments later, four more squad cars appeared. The officers, their hands on their guns, ordered Driscoll and Dunn out of the car. One took Driscoll aside and told him he'd have to come down to the station. Driscoll asked for a minute to talk to Dunn, who was getting visibly upset. "That cop told me you beat some girl to death and raped her," Driscoll recalls her screaming as he walked toward her. "What the fuck is going on?!"
And so began Kevin Driscoll's nightmare. Charges of first-degree rape—three counts. A very public humiliation. Two trials. And the loss of just about everything he valued in life. After two years, Driscoll was acquitted of all charges—when the not-guilty verdict was handed down, each of the jurors shook his hand—but to him that's no more than a footnote to the fact that he will forever live under a cloud of accusation, a pariah. Last Halloween he ran into two friends who hadn't spoken with him since he was taken into custody. "I heard everything worked out for you," one had said. "Yep, that's what I heard too," Driscoll said.
At the police station, Driscoll was taken to a bare interrogation room. "Do you want to talk with me about what happened the other night?" an officer asked. Driscoll gave the following account: He'd had some drinks with his buddies at a few bars around town. When they got to the last one, the Tumble Inn, they met a group of people. He invited the whole party to go hot-tubbing at his place. A girl asked if she could crash at his house, and he later found her in his bed, naked. They had sex that night and again in the morning. He drove her back to her car, dropped her off, and gave her his number, but he never thought he'd see her again. The officer stopped him there.
"I know who the girl is, I've talked to her," the cop said, "and her version of the story is different." He went on to tell Driscoll that the girl had been so badly beaten that "she had bruises like you'd have in a terrible car collision." He described her as having bruises on her arms, legs, and vagina, plus a bite mark on her shoulder. The officer wanted to hear Driscoll's story again—with more details. "Did you kiss her breasts?" the officer asked. "I did," he responded. "She called me a big boy," he said of their failed attempt to have anal sex. Driscoll begged the officers to take his fingerprints or to give him a polygraph—anything to prove his innocence. He admitted biting her during their sex play. "She liked it," he said weakly. The officer didn't buy it. "This is your chance to show a little remorse," he said. At that, Driscoll lost what composure he had left, alternating between screaming and whining to the officer that the sex was consensual. Admit the truth, the cop told him, and you'll feel better.