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To Parole or Not to Parole - That is the Question

A few years ago I received a letter from one of the three men still in prison, who kidnapped and gang raped me on the night of February 12, 1976.

When I saw the return address on the envelope, I wasn’t rattled. As I read the letter, my heart was open and I gladly accepted the first genuine apology since the rape, 38 years ago. The letter, and my response letter, is documented in my newly released book: Thick Skin, The Aftermath of Trauma

My reaction was very different when I was informed by the Wayne County Prosecutor’s office in Michigan, that one of the men was coming up for parole. It wasn’t the same man who sent me the letter; it was the gang leader himself. The Prosecutor was officially opposed to the parole and wanted me, as the victim on record, to make a formal statement regarding the matter.

I felt sick to my stomach, was filled with anxiety and I got an instant headache. Why was I affected so severely? Had I not forgiven all the men many years ago? After much thought and prayer, I realized that my responses were in direct proportion to the crime perpetrated against me.

The prisoner who sent me the letter was one of the gang members, not the leader. He was not excessively violent toward me that night and was just asserting himself to maintain his pecking order in the gang. I understood the difference and what I needed to do.

Therefore, I present to the reader, without prejudice, my letter to the parole board:


5060 Tecumseh Rd. East Suite 1239

Windsor, Ontario N8ST 1C1

519 251-0750



Grandview Plaza Building

P.O. Box 30003

Lansing, Michigan 48909

Attention: Michael C. Eagen

Chairperson – Michigan Parole and Commutation Board

RE: Parole of Joseph Evans # 146195

Dear Mr. Eagen

On February 12, 1976 I was driving on the John Lodge Freeway in Detroit returning home to Windsor from a night out with my friends. I was unexpectedly stranded with a flat tire along with a Good Samaritan, who stopped to help me fix it. The two of us were surrounded by men and robbed at gunpoint.

I was kidnapped and taken to the first location where I was raped by all the men with a gun pointed at my head the entire time. There were two guns present that night with prisoner Evans brandishing one of them. During this time I was beaten, shot at twice, raped and constantly threatened if I did not do as I was told by Evans.

Prisoner Evans was the undisputed leader of the gang, showing his power by the horrific violence perpetrated against me. I was taken to a second location by Evans where he talked to another man about pimping me out to his friends.

Over the course of twelve hours I was raped by Evans more than six times, three times at each location. He would beat me when I cried and he kicked and tried to strangle me when I begged him to kill me. His response was, “You die when I say you die!”

In a statement during the preliminary examination, Judge James Del Rio called it, “One of the worst cases I have ever heard,” and “an animal-like rape.” Multiply whatever you imagine about this assault by 100 and that is what I endured that night.

Thirty-eight years have passed and although I have forgiven all the men that raped me that night, including Joseph Evans, and I have chosen to move forward with my life, I still experience the residual effects of the assault.

I suffer from PTSD continuously with symptoms such as depression, nightmares, anxiety, stress, paralysis syndrome and have accepted them as a part of my life. I have had counselling for decades and I am currently seeing a psychiatrist and being treated with drug therapy.

Although I cannot testify to the man that Joseph Evans is today, I feel it is my duty to remind the parole board of the man I remember from that terror filled night. I trust in the system and believe that the right decision will be made, and justice will prevail.

Thank you for your consideration and feel free to contact me if you have any questions.


Melissa McCormick

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