by Patricia Adams
"I never met him until that night," Ms. A began. "I had decided to go for a bite to eat and have a couple of drinks with a friend."
She left her home at around 5 pm and took the ten minute walk to Danny Boy's, a Middle Village watering hole and regular haunt of Gallagher. She took a seat at the bar, ordered dinner and waited for her friend. "We weren't there long when he [Gallagher] came in." Ms. A explained how her friend knew the councilman and had gone over to greet him. "She put her arm around him and they were talking. I remember they walked over to me and she asked if I knew my councilman—I said no and shrugged my shoulders."
The women continued on with their dinner and sometime around 8 pm, Ms. A decided to call it a night. As she went to leave the bar, Gallagher heard her say that she would be walking home and offered to drive her. Already at the door, Ms. A looked at her friend as if for some type of validation that it was OK—"What are you worried about," the friend asked, "he's your councilman."
Ms. A said that it was the reassurance from her friend that led her to get in the car in the first place. "I never mind walking and it's not that far at all, but after my friend reminded me that this man was our councilman, I never in a million years thought I was in any danger." Ms. A was vehement about what she says was another misconception in the whole ordeal. "Everyone is saying that Dennis Gallagher was drunk. His lawyer even said that he used poor judgment because he was intoxicated. But he didn't show any signs of being drunk. To me, when someone is intoxicated they slur their words, they don't walk right; they don't have control over themselves. This man was not drunk. He was walking and talking normally. If I thought he was drunk I never would have gotten in his car. Never."
She was not drunk
Even more of a misconception she says, were the published reports that she was drunk. "I was taken to the hospital where they did a whole battery of tests which included measuring my blood alcohol level. It was in the normal limits. I had two drinks and a full meal. I wasn't drunk; I was just out for a normal dinner and a social evening."
Agreeing to the ride, Ms A. says she was barely in the car for one minute when something triggered inside her head. "I can still hear the sound of the four door locks clicking shut—I don't know why, but I felt uneasy right from then." According to the victim, her night of terror began as soon as Gallagher pulled the car away from the curb. "What's a bitch like you doing in a bar?" he demanded.
Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde
"It was like being with Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. I don't know what happened but he started driving very fast and making abusive statements. He was angry," she said, "very angry. He called me a whore. He said I was a tramp." Her mind was racing as she desperately tried to figure out what would have made Gallagher so belligerent. "The only thing I could think was that he was mad because I had interrupted an earlier conversation with him and my friend when they were outside smoking. Maybe she was the one he really wanted to leave with. I only know that I was scared. Scared to death."
Knowing she could not get out of the moving car, she struggled to get her seat belt on. "I didn't know what to do; my right thumb was broken and in a metal splint, so I had difficulty trying to get the belt on." She had broken the thumb days before while she was playing with her granddaughter and taken a fall in a neighbor's backyard. Noticing that the car was moving past the cemetery she said, "Where are you going. I live the other way." "I have to make a f——-g stop. Just shut up." A couple of minutes later, he pulled up to a doorway, which she later learned was the side entrance to his campaign office, located above his district office on Metropolitan Ave.
As the car came to a stop he came around to her side of the car and had told her to get out. "I remember him saying 'stay right here, don't move.' I was thinking how I could get away but I just froze. I was frightened. I panicked." Outside the car, the trembling woman again debated on how to get away. "I heard him say, 'don't run. I know where you live and I will find you.' It was all a blur and everything was happening so fast." He pushed the door open and grabbed her arm. "I felt something pressed into my back. I didn't know then what it was because I couldn't think, but I guess it must have been his fist. Maybe he was wearing a ring." She says she pleaded with him. "Don't do this. Don't go there. Please stop."
She then recounted how she was forced into the small hall—dragged and pushed up the stairway. "I was trying to get to my purse. It was on my shoulder and I couldn't reach my cell phone. I told him I was going to call the police. We were both yelling and he grabbed my bag." They reached the top of the stairs, and it was then Ms. A says that Gallagher pushed her, to the right of the room, into darkness. "The only light was coming from four computer screens on desks. When he shoved me I wound up on the floor. I was wearing a hair clip and it went into the back of my head." She said that the plastic teeth drove into the back of her head and left her wincing in pain. "I tried to get up but he just threw me down again."
In the Dark
Ms. A said that during the entire course of the attack she was kept in darkness. "I couldn't see anything and I was so sickened by him. He was sweating profusely. I was so disgusted and sick." Choking up as she continued, Ms. A said that as she was held to the floor she was thinking she would never get out alive. "I thought I was going to die there but I wanted to make sure that there was evidence." Trying to gather strength to continue with her story Ms. A recalled that her mind went somewhere else—trying to escape the horror of what was happening to her. "I watch a lot of CSI—all the reruns. I knew I had to leave some type of evidence in case he killed me. I scratched his sides and back to get his skin under my nails. I couldn't do it too hard because the more I struggled against him, the more violent and enraged he became."
During the attack she says the elastic bandage she was wearing over her splint had come unraveled. "I took the metal clips from the bandage and threw them on the carpet. I figured it was more evidence to leave behind."
"It was nearly forty-five minutes before he finished with me. And when it was over he pushed me away and just went running to the other side of the room. It was my chance to get out." Frantic to get out of the office, Ms A. says she got up and stumbled over something. "It was my purse. When I reached down to pick it up, I felt my clothes in a bunch where he had thrown them."
She said she struggled to get her clothes back on as she found her way to the stairs. "He pulled my clothes off and threw them; my underwear was still inside my shorts. Thankfully I was wearing clothes that were too big for me. I needed something that I could get on easily because of my thumb."
Ms. A said that she managed to pull up her black shorts with an elastic waistband and tank top while she was on the staircase. "I even wore a bra that had no hooks because I couldn't manage with my finger." Describing the clothes she wore on that night it became evident that she continued to search for answers as to why the attack had ever happened. "People always say that women get attacked because of what they have on; because they are wearing provocative clothing. I was wearing casual stretch clothes more than a whole size too big for me. Just something I could get on easily because my thumb was all taped up."
Both Legs Bleeding
Now out on the street, Ms. A started to run. "I don't know how I managed to run. I was wearing flip flops on my feet." On the way down the stairs she said she felt something wet on both of her legs. "It felt like water running down my legs." In the light of the hallway she saw the blood. "It was pouring out from both of my knees. I knew it hurt badly but I couldn't pay attention. I had to get away no matter what." The blood from her knees was a result of the skin being torn away from being repeatedly forced against the carpet. Now doctors say she will need surgery to repair the damage to her knees which were taken down almost to the cartilage.
After making her way home, Ms. A said all she wanted to do was to make sure that her family was safe at home. She got back to her house, checked on her son and called 911. "I wanted so badly to take a shower; to get [him] off me, but I knew I shouldn't do that. I didn't want to destroy any evidence." An ambulance arrived at the house shortly, as did the police. She was taken to St. John's Hospital where she underwent an examination and evaluation.
In the months that followed the attack, and preceding the recent court decision Ms. A says her life has been a nightmare. "As a victim I feel I have no rights. It's no wonder why so many women are unwilling to come forward with their stories. I feel that if Dennis Gallagher wasn't a politician, he would be in jail. The system needs to be fixed. After all that happened to me the only thing left for me to do is to continue to fight to change things. I don't want this to happen to another woman."
In next week's edition, the victim speaks about the aftermath of the attack and gives an inside look into how law enforcement officials handled the investigation.