30 years after rape, Maureen O'Boyle fights to keep attacker behind bars

30 years after rape, Maureen O'Boyle fights to keep attacker behind bars
WBTV Anchor Maureen O'Boyle
WBTV Anchor Maureen O'Boyle

(WBTV) - It has been 30 years since WBTV anchor Maureen O'Boyle was awakened in the middle of the night by a man laying on top of her and a knife against her throat. She was about to be terrorized for several hours and raped.

April is Sexual Assault Awareness Month and O'Boyle is fighting to keep her rapist, James Starling, behind bars.

Maureen started an online petition in late March when she discovered Starling was slated to be up for parole in April, twenty years ahead of his full prison sentence.

"It's not easy to share such a personal trauma. However,  I am starting this petition to protect other women and young girls from a serial predator and convicted rapist," Maureen wrote in the petition. "When you are raped, it never leaves you. My rape was the most terrifying day of my life."

Maureen was talking to her daughter about her rape, when she decided to Google Starling's name.

"My world stopped. There on my cell phone screen I read that James Starling was up for parole in April 2016, twenty years before his sentence would be complete," she said. "It was impossible to contain my tears, and even more impossible to witness my daughter looking at me, not knowing how to comfort and ease the fear and sadness she saw in me."

Starling held Maureen at knife-point for several hours on April 4, 1986. Starling had secretly been inside her apartment many times, perhaps every day, stealing things, moving things.

She woke up to feel him on top of her and heard him say "Don't make a noise, or I'll kill you right away."

"[He] chose that night because the day before my roommate had moved out. He knew I'd be alone. This was a calculated crime," she said. "To try and put into words the physical sensation of a body baring down on you, squeezing the very breath from your lungs, and the feeling of sharp metal against your throat, is almost impossible. My life flashed in a second. And all I could hear was, 'I'm going to kill you and no one will ever find the pieces'."

Maureen described the horrifying night in her online petition:

"Starling put a pillowcase over my face before I could see his face. He repeatedly told me, 'Don't open those brown eyes and try to see me.' James Starling had this night of torture so well planned he brought several pieces of luggage filled with underwear and bras stolen from other homes and apartments across three counties.  He also packed professional camera equipment, lighting and everything. Starling moved me about the room. And dressed me in other people's underwear and posed me in pornographic positions and photographed me...I can only guess there were 100s of pictures. The humiliation and fear lasted for hours. There were moments where his attention turned to rape. Where he committed the crime of sodomy against me repeatedly. I cried and cried and begged him to leave [...] But he repeated again that he would cut me up and no one would ever find me. And told me to, 'Shut up!' I begged for my life."

WEB EXTRA: Click here to read Maureen's full petition

After he was arrested, Starling confessed to raping Maureen and another woman. He was sentenced to 50 years for the various crimes.

But after Maureen learned that he could be released 20 years early - she began her fight all over again. She started an online petition, which has nearly 70,000 signatures. The headlines with her fight have gone international.

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