After fight to keep him behind bars, Maureen O'Boyle learns fate of rapist

Journey for Justice
WBTV anchor Maureen O'Boyle
WBTV anchor Maureen O'Boyle

CHARLOTTE, NC (WBTV) - On Friday afternoon, at 4:04 p.m., I finally got the call that I've been waiting for.

Keir Chapple, the Assistant Director of Georgia Board of Pardons and Paroles' Office of Victim Services, told me the board had made their final decision on James Starling. Starling is the man convicted of raping me, and another woman, in Macon, Georgia in 1986.

Starling was originally sentenced to 50 years in prison, but had a tentative parole date of April 2016. This would have been an early release by 20 years.

When I discovered that earlier this year, I started a petition on Change.org - asking you to join in my fight to keep him behind bars.

In a matter of days, thousands of people joined my petition. Many of you shared your own stories of sexual violence. Your stories have touched my heart and soul more than you can know.

At last check, there were more than 71,000 signatures supporting my efforts. Thank you to every person who lent their name and their heart to this very personal mission.

Deputy Chapple told me, Friday afternoon, the board has decided Starling will remain in prison, for now. His next tentative parole date is April 2026.

What I have learned through this process is too many victims of sexual violence lose their voice and never get the justice they deserve.

I hope and pray my victory in this fight - to keep my rapist behind bars - gives those who never had a sense of justice some feeling of vindication.

The way the system works in Georgia, you must make a plea before one board member. That board member then describes your meeting in a narrative to the other members.

Each member makes their decision separately. The board is comprised of five members. When a majority decision is reached, that is when the victim is notified.

I want to thank those people at WBTV, specifically my assistant news director, Kim Saxon, for encouraging me to involve you in this process. And thank you, Kristen Hampton, who took the journey with me, and my daughter, to Georgia.

And thank you to Sharon Smith - who so eloquently helped me explain my journey for justice on WBTV News.

My heart is overflowing with gratitude for every single person who sent words of encouragement.

I also want to thank my daughter, Keegan, for being my rock when I felt as tho my world was crumbling.

We'll keep this conversation going on my Facebook page and my petition page on Change.org.

This could not have happened without your help.

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