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LISA (PART 2)

LISA (PART 1)

If I hadn't had the false charge, I would not have gone to prison. If I didn't go to prison, I would have died. This is the way it had to be, and I understood that. But I have so many stories about prison where God just came in, and He said, “Daughter, I have you. And we’re in this together.

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GOD’S HAND IN HER PRISON RESCUE

I've seen them [the two police officers who arrested me] in New Orleans many times when I was living there. I hug them every time, because I said, “You saved my life that night.” I call that my prison rescue. The two charges I had was an empty crack pipe with less than 1/1000th of a gram of coke, and the other one was this false charge [solicitation of a police officer done during their “Crimes Against Nature” sting]. If I hadn't had the false charge, I would not have gone to prison. If I didn't go to prison, I would have died. This is the way it had to be, and I understood that.

They told me if I didn't send them [sex offender cards] out they're going to send me back in jail, and this is right after they told me they had let the rapist out after 62 days [in prison].

But I have so many stories about prison where God just came in, and He said, “Daughter, I have you. And we’re in this together. Those fences that are out there? Those fences aren’t keeping you in. Those fences are keeping the people who want to kill you, out.” And whenever I would think, “I don't want to be here anymore,” I would just get a total sense of peace that I'm here with God. I don't need anything else, and that was where my faith grew. I wouldn't trade that time in prison for anything in the world.

POST 18 MONTHS OF JAIL

The first thing I had to do was call the parole officer. That's when she laid it on me that I had to send out these [sex offender] cards, and I couldn’t believe it. I didn't know about sex offender cards, or what that meant to be a sex offender, or how they label that-- which is so unfair especially when you’re talking about all these hurting women, to even label that. But that’s what the law was at the time.

Those fences aren’t keeping you in. Those fences are keeping the people who want to kill you, out.” And whenever I would think, “I don't want to be here anymore,” I would just get a total sense of peace that I'm here with God.

They told me if I didn't send them [sex offender cards] out they're going to send me back in jail, and this is right after they told me they had let the rapist out after 62 days [in prison]. And I’m thinking, “What? I have to warn the neighbors about me? And this guy’s out?” And it was a certain miles that you had to send them out, and my church had to get me an apartment to help me get on my feet. And the apartment--where it was-- was right on the cusp of the miles. And [I needed to post] my picture in the paper.

A year later, when I was getting ready to get married to Marvin, Judge [Leon] Cannizzaro was still a judge, and he made it where I didn't have to register or do those cards, or do any of that anymore. But I still had that crazy label that I should have never had in the first place. In 2017, when I went to the Pardon Board, I brought medical records, everything...so I got a full pardon on that. I have no felonies anymore.

This is what I did for 11 years. I was going to “Inmate Tracker,” and I see this habitual offender for other violent things. I know that he was raping women, in my heart. I know that he was killing women.

THE “11-YEAR RAPE”

The second call I made [after being released] was to the District Attorney’s office to ask why this man that kidnapped me in his house and tried to kill me and all that [was released]. [He said], “Oh, we released him after 62 days because we couldn't find the witness.” I said, “Couldn't find the witness? I was right next door in your jail!” But I'm here now, so let's get busy. This was Harry Connick [Sr.]. “Oh well, we lost your file. We can’t do anything.”


This is what I did for 11 years. I was going to “Inmate Tracker,” and I see this habitual offender for other violent things. I know that he was raping women, in my heart. I know that he was killing women. I am a hundred percent positive there are many that did not escape from this person that got to walk free. I quit calling after [Hurricane] Katrina because they said there's nothing we’re ever gonna do for you. That’s [D.A.] Eddie Jordan. I said, “God I can’t lose another day of this.”

For 3 years, I never looked...But now, the district attorney used to be a judge--and he just happened to be the judge that sentenced me to prison. So my mind’s thinking, “If these other two people [D.A.’s Connick Sr. and Jordan] didn’t help me, is this guy [D.A. Cannizzaro] gonna help me?”
Mary Glass, my hero. You hear me say her name. I love this lady. She made a phone call and found my box while I was waiting there. And it comes, and she starts pulling out the clothes I was wearing that day, and crime scene photos.

And 2009 was the first time that I looked again. There he was, aggravated rape--back in jail--it had just happened. And God just happened to let me see. For 3 years, I never looked. I went back down to the District Attorney, but now, the district attorney used to be a judge--and he just happened to be the judge that sentenced me to prison. So my mind’s thinking, “If these other two people [D.A.’s Connick Sr. and Jordan] didn’t help me, is this guy [D.A. Cannizzaro] gonna help me?” But at least I had to try. But he did.


[Assistant D.A.] Mary Glass, my hero. You hear me say her name. I love this lady. She made a phone call and found my box while I was waiting there. And it comes, and she starts pulling out the clothes I was wearing that day, and crime scene photos. And I'm thinking, “Is this really happening?” It wasn't so much about even justice for me. It was getting this man off the streets so he can’t do this to another person.

"Where do kids go that have to tell this story?"...They're not going to talk. These kids need a safe room.

She’s [A.D.A. Mary Glass] a bulldog. She got it. They got the case together. The grand jury was about 6 weeks. In about 6 months, we were at trial. And he chose a bench trial because they didn't want a jury to hear what he had done to me. He got life without parole. I was always worried that something was going to happen or I was going to have to go back and testify again. He died in April of last year.


I knew Him [God] already since I was 13, but I didn't know him like that. There were so many things that...it was just the hand of God. Like with the D.A. being the judge that actually saved my life, and sent me to prison. And then he turned out to be the one to prosecute my rapist. He [D.A. Cannizzaro] really respects me a lot, and I respect him a lot for everything that he has done for me. Because to know this person [LeBeau] was out there, still doing this to people--and I knew he was--it was hard to sleep.

LISA’S ROOM

When I was doing my third interview with Mary Glass--sometimes I do this when I get uncomfortable, sometimes I might change the subject--but I just asked, “Where do kids go that have to tell this story?” Because mine--just saying--happened like 10 years earlier at this point. I was a 40-year old woman. The things that you have to tell ‘em, the memories, because you don’t forget. And all these really, very hard questions, too. And embarrassing, as well.


I said, “Where do children go if they have to answer these questions?” And I was sitting behind--she had a big desk--and my thought was, “When you’re a kid and you're sitting in an office like that, you're usually in trouble.” These people tell these children, “If you tell anybody, you're going to be in trouble.” And I said, “So now they’re here, hearing what these monsters just told them, and they think they’re in trouble.” So they're not going to say anything. They're not going to talk. These kids need a safe room. These kids need a room with toys, gaming chairs, and things to play with. And they’ll draw, and snacks, and all that so the advocate could get on their level and just play games with them for a while before they ask them anything.

Because he always did drugs, he never left DNA. They won my case without DNA because my story corroborated everything. The truth doesn't change.

So I asked the District Attorney if he would give me a space, and they had that one room that you see, it was completely empty. I was working at Radio Disney at the time and I had a few contacts, some foreign companies, a demolition company, and people that I knew that would have money that came through.


We started out with carpet, and then just filled it with furniture and toys, and all of this. And Lisa’s Room was born. And unfortunately, that room is used all day long.


Another use for it, is before, in the back of the courtroom there's like a waiting room and when you’re the victim, you can't be in court while all the testimonies [are] going on. You have to be kept out. Only when you're on the stand can you be in the courtroom. These children were having to sit back in those waiting rooms. Sometimes if the offender himself had been bonded out, would be in that same room. This room is also used for kids to be able to wait, play games, relax and everything, before they walk them over next door to do their testimonies. The conviction rates are up, the testimonies are better, the children are healing more.

And Lisa’s Room was born. And unfortunately, that room is used all day long...These children were having to sit back in those waiting rooms. Sometimes if the offender himself had been bonded out, would be in that same room.

STATE VS. LEBEAU

The M.O.’s [for the other rape case] were almost exactly the same. He was grabbing a broom handle. He cracked her [the other victim’s face] all the way across, broke her cheekbone. They could not, or would not prosecute her case. You know why? Because she changed her story. She was afraid to tell them why she was there because she had a kid living in the hotel--the same hotel I was at [the night before the rape]. Her daughter was there with her boyfriend, and she was afraid to tell the District Attorney what was what. I was with her when she gave her statement.


I let her talk and let her do whatever she was [doing], and Mary asked me if I would bring her [M.D.--the other victim] back down to where she [Mary] was. And I looked at her and I said, “Let me tell you something. I did not come this far, for you to go in there and tell that bullshit that you just told them. But what they will do is get you and your daughter out of that hotel, get you into treatment, and you're going to be a good witness.” And so she did. She went back and told them she was gonna go buy drugs, he locked the door, and all that. They tried my case alone because my story never changed from the time I sat in that police car. They felt like her case would weaken mine, if they put them together.

The M.O.’s [for the other rape case] were almost exactly the same. He was grabbing a broom handle. He cracked her [the other victim’s face] all the way across, broke her cheekbone.

That was always a real fear of mine because they left it open to where, if for some reason, he won an appeal they would have this other case [M.D.’s case] to be able to try him on, to make sure that he would not get out of jail. I do hope that he [LeBeau] found God before he actually died. And I mean that. I gave him a Bible, he didn't want it. He preyed on women who he thought no one would ever look for, because that’s what he told me the whole time. And also women who might have warrants that wouldn’t report him, if they did get out.

Because he always did drugs, he never left DNA. They won my case without DNA because my story corroborated everything. The truth doesn't change. It's burned in your head, you know? Just like I'm telling you right now, I can see the room, I can see they had children's drawings on the walls. At the time, I diverted on to, “Maybe it’s not happening to one of these kids, because I’m here.” And it made me feel better. There was no one there while I was there. These houses in New Orleans are so close together. I heard someone out there and I tried to scream, and that's when he broke this jaw here [motions to her lower right jaw].

I gave him a Bible, he [LeBeau] didn't want it. He preyed on women who he thought no one would ever look for, because that’s what he told me the whole time.

HOW LISA TOLD HER FAMILY

When I met my husband a year and a half after this happened, we got married. We have a 17-year old and a 16-year old. Three daughters, one grandson, and a brand new granddaughter that was just born last week. As they were getting older, when it was appropriate, they went to the ribbon cuttings but didn’t really know quite why. Because they were little. Mom’s talking to TV cameras, and doing all this kind of stuff. I just said, “Mom helps abused children.”


But my older daughter, Claire, she's my brainiac--she's been, like, a gifted student for a long time. She was digging in my closet and she found the article, and read it. It was a little troubling. So that's when I really had to sit down, and this is what I did.

I can see they had children's drawings on the walls. At the time, I diverted on to, “Maybe it’s not happening to one of these kids, because I’m here.”

TAKING RESPONSIBILITY

Of course I didn't deserve what happened to me. But I walked over myself into Hollygrove [street, where LeBeau kidnapped her in his home], and did a very dangerous thing. So if people can't take personal responsibility for their own actions...Did I ask to get raped? Of course not. But if you put yourself in dangerous situations and do dangerous things, the likelihood of something really terrible happening to you like that is gonna happen.


So if we don't educate young people and say, “This could happen to you. You’re not invincible...” Sometimes that's a little bit controversial when I say that, because they think I'm victim shaming and blaming--and I’m not. I’m just saying, “You have to make really good choices for yourself.” And believe me, I wouldn't wish this on my worst enemy. That's why I'm so open with my story. It's not my life now, it was my life then. I thank God that he saved me, so I can talk about it today.

Did I ask to get raped? Of course not. But if you put yourself in dangerous situations and do dangerous things, the likelihood of something really terrible happening to you like that is gonna happen.
Lisa receives a "Tree of Life" from the Aubrey Hepburn Care Center CAC New Orleans. Each year, a tree is given to represent a child that died that year of abuse. Lisa's tree was from a little baby boy left in a hot car.

PTSD

I've never had a nightmare about this, but I have the effects of post traumatic stress that I didn't even know what they were until 2016. So I read, “Oh that’s why that happens to my body. That's what these electric shocks are.”

So if we don't educate young people and say, “This could happen to you. You’re not invincible...”

Racing thoughts--if you see, like before, if I’d see a car going slowly behind me if I was looking in my mirror and I would see him pass again, my mind would go way over here [points to the far right] that they're coming back for me. That's the kind of thing that you live with for a long, long time. I did.


I still kept trying to go forward, and I said that time heals everything. I'm going to do this advocacy work. I still was terribly sick, and even though I hid it very well and I had very good jobs and made good money...I was very, very sick. And that’s when all that weight gain came, because that was just 16 years of untreated post-traumatic stress. I couldn't sleep anymore. I would wake up like [inhales sharply]. These panics...so I just didn’t wanna go to sleep. So I drank a lot of coffee, a lot of coffee creamer, and that’s when all that weight--in like a year, or so [happened].

ONLINE STRUGGLES

You wouldn't even believe the magnitude of what these people have done and said about me over the last 7 months. One day I was scrolling through Twitter and I saw Scott’s thing [rape accusations from Nicole Eggert] and I said, “I'm gonna look into this.” And I did for a couple of days, before I even sent that tweet--until I was sure in my heart that I needed to say something. I sent that one Tweet, and then the next morning is when I woke up, and I had been put into some kind of group room. I didn't know how Twitter worked, because I didn't do Twitter a whole lot. It's really just 4 people--4 or 5 people--but they make tons and tons of different accounts.

I was very, very sick. And that’s when all that weight gain came, because that was just 16 years of untreated post-traumatic stress. I couldn't sleep anymore.

I was scared, because they said they had hackers. Like the first one said, “I don't even believe she was raped…” or something like that. “It looks like she was in a car accident.” Nicole has posted that I got arrested last year for cocaine, and that didn’t happen. Sammy, the cousin, posted like 3 weeks ago--she went to my Instagram and took a picture of my husband and I on a kayak in Perdido [Alabama], scribbled his face out, And said he was my “John.” In 2020!


And I didn’t just read Scott's [Baio] Jackie Lacey letter and automatically point a finger at Nicole [Eggert]. And honestly, I love Scott to death now as much as I can--never had talked to him or met him in person. In the beginning, it didn't have anything to do with him [Baio]. It had to do with her [Eggert], for lying about being raped and trying to get money for it.


#METOO

I knew about the original #metoo movement. What was great. It was meant to bring awareness to minority women, which my heart [goes out to]--being incarcerated--and knowing how a lot of people don't know how a lot of these little girls grow up. I loved it. But then when it got hijacked out of Hollywood and stuff...It's been a nasty, little thing. Like I said, if Richard Lebeau didn't kill me, or bully me or make me stop fighting to get him justice--these crazy women behind their computers are no match for that.

Like I said, if Richard Lebeau didn't kill me, or bully me or make me stop fighting to get him justice--these crazy women behind their computers are no match for that.


Story of Rape Survivor, Advocate, Fitness and Wellness Coach, Lisa Ripp

Instagram: @lisarippfaith.fitness

Twitter: @ripp_lisa

A GoFundMe fundraising page for Lisa Ripp has been organized by Lisa's friend, David Spirits: "This past Saturday, everything went dark. Lisa attempted to take her own life. Her husband found her and if he had found her any later, it would have been too late. It took 10 hours before they could wake Lisa up, and a while longer before she could get the words out "am I going to die?" the doctors told her they didn't know."

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