Victim speaks out on sex offender release: ‘He is a very violent predator’
A year after his release, she wants her story out.
MADISON, Wis. — For the past three weeks, Tracy Flippin has been ill.
She can’t sleep. She can’t eat. She is 10 pounds lighter.
Three weeks ago she learned her rapist, Richard Beranek, is not going back to prison.
“I lived my whole life since the rape thinking that I would never have to worry about Richard Beranek,” she said. “He was never getting out of prison. I didn’t have to worry about it.”
It was last year she found out he was getting out. After serving the time for her rape, the Innocence Project found DNA from another victim’s case didn’t match with Beranek’s, so he was released from the rest of the prison sentence. Though the district attorney said he believed he could still get a guilty verdict, he said he didn’t want to put the victim through it. That was three weeks ago, and the case was then dismissed.
Flippin thinks that’s a mistake.
“I don’t think that (Beranek) is rehabilitatible,” she said. “He served prison one time, got out and raped me. And I can guarantee there were other victims.
Flippin was only 15 when she said Beranek targeted her outside a summer camp where she worked. She said she was out for a bike ride when he pulled up beside her in his truck. She ran away, but he caught up.
“I remember when I was done just asking, ‘why me?’ And he said because I seemed like a nice girl,” Flippin said. “That statement haunted me for 10 years. I did everything in my power not to be a nice girl.”
She said she started making bad life decisions. She battled an eating disorder and binge drank. When she had her daughter 10 years after the rape, she became a nurse and turned her life around.
But now, another child later, she worries she taught her girls to see the world the way she sees it: fearful. She can no longer go on long bike rides. She gauges walks in the country based on her anxiety that day. She recalls a time she saw a homeless man approach her on the street, and she panicked and told her girls to run.
“I can still remember the look on his face,” she said. “He was heartbroken.”
But now Beranek is out, she said her PTSD is even worse.
“I now know what it’s like to worry about your perpetrator being out there,” Flippin said. “I know so many women who their perpetrators have never been caught, or women whose perpetrators serve only a short amount of time and get out. And having to worry about seeing them or worrying about where they are and what they’re doing, or who will be their next victim.
“I guess the thing I’ve learned in this past year is really how it feels to be a victim.”
Flippin’s detective is furious.
“The fact they’re saying this poor man spent 27 years in prison wrongly accused. That is a lie, flat out a lie, and they should have known it,” said William R. Glass, who is now retired after 23 years of criminal investigation.
Glass said Beranek is evil and cannot change. He said there are many more victims of Beranek’s that have not come forward or passed the statute of limitations for conviction before they could identify him.
“This guy is a serial rapist,” he said. “He is a predator. He is still by any stretch of the imagination capable of continuing his behavior. I will be absolutely shocked if within the next year he’s not in some way tied to another sexual assault.”
Thirty years later, Tracy Flippin feels like a victim all over again. She never thought she’d have to deal with Richard Beranek after he was sentenced to 243 years in 1990. But now he’s out.
Posted by Amy Reid on Thursday, June 7, 2018
Glass agrees with the district attorney that the case that was thrown out could have resulted in a guilty verdict, but Beranek’s lawyer — who said he is not a part of the Innocence Project — said that’s not possible, and the courts shouldn’t keep a man in prison if DNA evidence proves he didn’t do it.
“We don’t in free countries lock people up on the fear of what they might do tomorrow,” attorney Dean Strang said, “We lock them up if we’re able to prove them guilty beyond a reasonable doubt for what they did yesterday.”
Flippin hopes something about this can change, and by sharing her story, she hopes other victims will feel comfortable coming forward.
“I refuse to let Richard Beranek win,” she said. “If somehow I can turn this into something good, then he doesn’t win.”
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