INDIANAPOLIS (USA TODAY) -- The message popped up on Jenny Wendt's cellphone while she was at a doctor's appointment last month.
It was from a female detective with the Indiana University Purdue University Indianapolis police department. She didn't leave details. She didn't need to.
"When she said who she was," Wendt said, "I knew immediately what it was about."
In that moment, it all came back to her. The physical and emotional pain. The recurring nightmares. The guilt and self doubt. The fear that drove her to buy a handgun and take instruction on how to use it.
When Wendt reached the detective, she could barely believe what she was hearing. The man who had raped her nine years earlier had come forward. He had confessed. Would she now like to press charges?
What would ensue, however, was not the justice she had hoped for. Instead, there was only more disappointment, more anger, more pain. Just a few days after that first phone call, she received another: No charges could be filed. Because of the statute of limitations, too much time had passed.
Her attacker would go free.
Wendt sat down with The Indianapolis Star on Friday to share her story in the hope that doing so might provide some emotional closure. She further hopes that going public will help other victims of sexual assault and expose what she believes is a troubling legal loophole that denied her justice.
The Star also contacted Bart Bareither, the man Wendt said raped her. Bareither, 39, of Carmel, did not deny he is the man who walked into the Marion County Sheriff's Department last month and confessed to raping Wendt, but he declined to comment to The Star on the record.
Raw violence. Brute force.
Those are the things Wendt remembers most vividly about that day nine years ago.
She recalls the shock at seeing, in a split second, an explosion of ugly behavior erupt from someone she thought she knew, from someone she thought she could trust.
This man, after all, seemed smart, respectful and "together," as she puts it. Bareither worked as a teaching assistant at IUPUI, where he served as Wendt's lab instructor in a physiology course she was taking on her way to becoming a nurse.
Wendt described Bareither as physically fit, muscular, a student of martial arts. She remembers him as a large man, standing more than 6 feet tall and weighing more than 200 pounds - dwarfing her 5-foot-3-inch, 105-pound frame.
Wendt said she and Bareither had been on five or six outings earlier in the year during which, she said, "a little kiss at the end of each date" was the extent of physical activity.
But on that spring day, April 29, 2005, Wendt - who describes herself as "cautious" - said she reluctantly agreed to his suggestion that they go to her apartment to watch a movie.
"As soon as we walked into the apartment, he slammed the door and grabbed me," recalled Wendt, now 35 and having long since moved from Indianapolis.
"He was able to hold me down, get me undressed, get me onto my bed and rape me. I was screaming and crying and fighting, trying to get away, but he was just so much bigger than me, and it was almost like he did martial arts stuff to pin me down. He raped me vaginally and anally.
"It was very violent. I not only had physical injuries to my vaginal and anal area, but I also had injuries to my neck because of the way I was pressed up against the wall."
After the rape, Wendt said her attacker "just got up and left" as if nothing had happened.
Wendt lay in bed for days, she said, in physical, mental and emotional pain. At first, she told no one. Gradually, she confided in two of her closest friends. Then a third. Several weeks later, she told a doctor she arranged to see at a clinic. The doctor informed her she had contracted the sexually-transmitted disease HPV.
For the most part, she kept her nightmare to herself - and she never reported the rape to police.
At IUPUI, she regularly saw Bareither around campus. He also occasionally called and emailed, she said, acting as though nothing had happened. She did not answer his calls, but after one particularly explicit email, she responded.
"I emailed him one time and told him, 'Never contact me again. You raped me. Leave me alone.' But he kept emailing me these crazy, weird, obsessive emails."
Summer courses started weeks after the rape.
"I always had a friend walk with me," she said, "even from class to the bathroom."
Wendt did not tell her parents for years, but her mother, Kathy Wendt, 65, recalls her daughter developing a sudden resolve to buy a handgun. After acquiring one, she recruited her mother to take firearms training with her.
"I knew something must have happened," Kathy Wendt said. "Besides the gun, she also all of a sudden couldn't wait to move away from her apartment."
After her lease expired in December 2005, Jenny Wendt left Indianapolis.
Over the years, Wendt let a few others know what had happened, including anyone with whom she developed a serious relationship.
"It took me a long time," she said, "to be able to trust men again."
When she finally told her parents years later, her father found the news unbearable.
"I thought about hunting him down and killing him," said Robert Wendt, 66. "I really did. But the more I thought about it, if you get yourself locked up in jail, you do more harm to your family than good."
But now, whatever vengeance he sought for his daughter - whatever hope for justice Jenny Wendt held - appears lost.
She remains haunted by her conversations with the detective. The first unleashed that flood of bad memories, but also gave her that last hope for justice.
"This was my second chance to make him pay for what he had done," she said.
But then came the call a few days later. The detective was apologetic but explained there was a problem: State law prevented prosecutors from charging the man.
In Indiana, the statute of limitations for filing a rape charge is five years, unless a weapon has been used or serious bodily injury occurred.
Wendt recalled the detective's words: "She said, 'I am so sorry, but even with a confession, they can't charge him after the statute of limitations has expired.' "
She was devastated.
And, now, more than ever, she regrets not going to police when it happened. But, in reality, that is a common decision. Experts estimate that as many as 75 percent of sexual assaults are not reported.
"I'm stronger now than I used to be," she said. "If I had been this strong at the time, I definitely would have reported it immediately."
She is also convinced of something else: When Bareither walked into the sheriff's office to confess, he was well aware of the statute of limitations.
"He knew he wouldn't go to jail," she said. "I think this is just another way of him manipulating the system. It's a way for me to relive it and him getting away with it again."
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