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Exclusive: Rape victim speaks out as attacker remains on the run

By: Sam Dick - Email
By: Sam Dick - Email

She thought justice had been served.

Her ex-boyfriend, ex-Army Ranger John Buckley IV, had just been convicted of raping and sodomizing her.

But where was Buckley? He had already walked out of the Fayette County Circuit Courthouse and cut off his ankle monitor before vanishing.

"After we had the guilty verdict and I'm supposed to feel vindicated, that they finally put the man who raped me in prison, but they can't find him," Jessica Merritt told WKYT as remains in protective custody.

Left behind, police quickly took his victim into a small room to protect her. She has been hiding ever since. She can't go home, can't go to work, or live a normal life.

"The detectives now don't even want me to go back to my house," Merritt said. "I can't even go home, because they're scared that he will try to kill me."

Jessica wanted WKYT to do an interview so she could get the message out: she wants her rapist caught, and put in prison. She's hoping by appearing on television, it will help catch him.

"I know that he would go out and do this to someone else," she says. "That's just the kind of person he is, and I couldn't stand by, and let him get away with doing it to me."

On May 29, 2010, Merritt went to Buckley's apartment in Lexington to talk out a problem. They had broken up after dating for 18 months. She had dated one of this friends, and he was upset about it. But she says when she went to his apartment, he grabbed his video camera, and his demeanor changed to something ugly.

"The look on his face, and the anger in his voice, told me, that he would hurt me, if I didn't do what he said," Merritt told WKYT's Officer Don Evans.

She testified in court about a sexual assault that lasted 40-minutes. The video tape of the assault was shown in court.

"It was completely terrible. He was doing it to punish me," she said.

After the attack she went to the hospital, and then contacted police. Something she says, he didn't expect. "I think he thought I would be too scared of him to go to the police and tell them what he did to me," she said.

Buckley was arrested the next day.

On July 12, a jury sentenced him to 20 years in prison. Her moment of vindication and justice was turned upside down, and so is her life.

"I don't feel like I can go back to my house and feel safe until he's caught and put in prison," Merritt told WKYT while in protective custody in another state. "And I can't go back to my life, that I should be able to live like a normal person, because I did everything that I should have done to put my rapist in prison."

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