In 1993, Donna Palomba was raped by a masked assailant in her own home. Yet, her story is more than a victim’s tale of physical and emotional recovery. It is a story of one woman’s hunt for justice while fending off attacks by institutions designed to defend and protect her—the police department, the local government, and a community clinging to an outrageous claim that Donna had invented the crime to cover up a sexual affair.
From the night of the attack, the botched crime scene investigation, and the abuse as authorities attempted to close the case by discrediting her, Donna was left as a victim with no name and no identity. Meanwhile, there was one courageous detective, later to become chief of police, who broke a cops’ code of silence in the name of justice. As they fought on, a legal battle ensued after the Waterbury Police Department—now with media support—refused to let go of its allegations against her and admit wrongdoing. Finally, after eleven years of struggle, Donna learned the identity of her attacker from the chief of police, who explained that the DNA from the rape kit taken a decade ago had turned up a shocking match.
In 2007, Donna Palomba was the subject of a special two-hour Dateline episode about her case. Suddenly, she was Jane Doe no more, launching the Jane Doe No More organization and becoming a promoter of the rights of women and victims of sexual assault. With the help of crime investigator and author M. William Phelps, this is her story.