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WomanOf the Month 9-08: Kimberly Corban
by Kimberly Corban

I grew up in Greeley, Colorado with my parents and younger brother. I attended Northridge High School and was very involved in sports, student council, and volunteer work. I graduated in 2004 and the following fall, I started as a freshman at the University of Northern Colorado. I had decided not to pursue any extra-curricular activities. It was different for me, not being involved in anything, so in the spring I went through sorority recruitment and became an Alpha Phi. Anyone who knew me prior to my pledging would have never guessed I’d want to be involved with that kind of organization, but it ended up being one of the best decisions I ever made. I met my very best friends there and after living together in the sorority house our sophomore year, six of us decided to move in together off campus. We found apartments on the west side of town and had to split up three and three.

After finals ended in the spring of 2006, we started moving in and were looking forward to three months of work, laying by our new pool, and hanging out with each other every night. However, on the morning of May 12th, our lives were changed forever.

I was awakened to a quiet, haunting voice and the feeling of suffocation. For the following two hours, I was raped by an intruder in my own home. After being sure he was going to kill me, I thought of all the things I’d missed out on doing. I was only 20 and never got to achieve even a fragment of my potential. I wondered if my family knew how much I loved them, and if my friends knew how much they meant to me. With that, I began clinging to the little hope I had of surviving, knowing if I did, I had something worth living for. I didn’t cry. I was unable to scream. I stayed calm…plotting… I did the unthinkable, and kept my attacker in the apartment a whole extra hour talking to him. I had to stomach the intense urge to break down, and was able to keep my head straight while gathering all the information I could on this man while my face remained covered. I did small things to keep myself alive, like lying about having herpes so he would end the assault and telling him I was claustrophobic so he would have to move the shirt covering my face giving me small glimpses of his body. My ability to preserve evidence ended up being a key factor in the case afterwards.

Immediately after he left my apartment, I woke my other roommate, sleeping only one room away the entire time. I was on the phone with the 9-1-1 operator, and I gave my description of the man. After my call dropping a total of five times, the police finally arrived on the scene.

The next three weeks were the longest of my life, yet a blur. It was an endless string of interviews and going through the assault time after time, but I never shared the details with my friends and family despite their wondering minds.

Three weeks to the day, a man was picked up for trespassing about a mile away from my apartment at another complex taking lewd pictures of women at the pool. I was asked to come down to the station to see if I recognized the perpetrator. Having never actually seen my assailant’s face, I made a positive ID by the sound of his voice and a picture of his shoes.

The case was handed over to the district attorney and the long court process began. In our first meeting, I told the prosecutors I would not be ok with offering this monster any kind of arrangement. He cut me no slack during my rape, why should he be allowed any now? After almost a year, the case was set to go to trial, and I was the key witness. Though I’d been in therapy since the first week of the attack, the mental stress was too much for my troubled mind to handle. I had numerous panic attacks and was diagnosed with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, but over Easter weekend of 2007, I had my first seizure. I was in the Emergency room many times over those few days, but the following Monday, I was seen by a neurologist. They were deemed psychogenic non-epileptic seizures, and once again, I lost what little independence I had gained. I moved home, was forced to drop out of my junior year of college, and had to be watched every minute of each day. I would have no warning before an episode, and many times would injure myself by falling. I was having anywhere from three to seven seizures a day.

The court day loomed in the back of my mind as I tried to better myself, but I kept going over my testimony a few times a week with the district attorney. Despite my new medical condition, I was determined to have this person taken out of society, unable to hurt anyone else like he’d hurt me. On June 4th, 2007, the five day trial started. On Tuesday, I was on the stand testifying for three entire hours. The cross-examination was unforgivably harsh, but if my testimony hadn’t been enough, the four positive samples the hospital attained were a 99.99996% match to the defendant. That Friday, Ronnie Pieros was found guilty of trespassing, burglary, and sexual assault. It was the first time I’d ever cried tears of joy. My seizures decreased sufficiently in the following weeks, and I was finally feeling like my happy, outgoing and optimistic self. This summer was so different from the last. It was spent with friends, living on my own again, and most importantly, not in fear.

I had a couple months before sentencing was set in September. I didn’t feel like what happened to me should be for nothing, and so I decided that if I could help one person in my situation, my suffering would not be in vain. On September 5th, Pieros was sentenced 24 years to life and I was there along with 65 of my sorority sisters, my friends from high school, my parents and their friends, and members of the community as it had been during trial as well. We stood undivided, as people all affected directly by Pieros’ actions, and were elated to see justice served.

I chose to release my name that afternoon kno