She tells 3News she wants to take a public stance against Matthew Piter in order to help other women.
CLEVELAND — After four years, Lauren Little is breaking her silence.
Little is accusing Cleveland Police officer Matthew Piter of raping her, making her the second woman to make this accusation.
“There’s this huge stigma behind sexual assault and rape,” Little said when asked why she’s decided to make her identity public. “I want other women to know that they’re not alone.”
In 2017, Little said she met a man on the dating app, Bumble, and the two went out for pizza. That he was a Cleveland Police officer cadet, put her at ease.
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“It makes you feel safe that you’re meeting someone who’s a police officer,” she explained.
Little invited him to her apartment the next night, where she said Piter showed up very drunk. When he refused to leave, “I got up to go to my room. I was actually going to lock myself in my room, but he followed behind me, and ripped my shirt from around my throat, and strangled me to the point that my shirt ripped. I had burn marks on my throat. He ripped my underwear off from me,” she said.
She didn’t know his last name but said that the rookie police officer had distinctive features.
“He had a mole on his face, and that was the only thing I could stare at, other than his lazy eye, while I was being raped,” she said.
Little did not contact the police, and instead tried her best to move on. She met and married the love of her life, and moved to Washington. But in the back of her closet, in a plastic bag, there was a haunting memento.
She says she had saved the ripped tank top from the night of the attack.
“I did it because I get to look at that and say, ‘This is what happened to me.’ It’s a reminder, a portion of my truth that can’t be taken away from me,” she said.
Then last spring, Little stumbled upon a news headline that made her heart sink. The news story was about Piter being charged with raping a woman in 2019, two years after her alleged attack.
“There’s no more guilt that someone can feel, than knowing that. You’d hope that someone was drunk and would never do it again, but the amount of guilt that you feel knowing that someone was assaulted after you,” she explained.
Now that she had a last name, she says she pored through the 2017 Cleveland Police Academy graduation ceremony on YouTube. That’s where she says she saw the face of her attacker.
RELATED: Cleveland police officer officially indicted for rape
“I just needed to be 1,000% sure — even though I was 999.9% sure,” Little said.
After coming forward to prosecutors, Piter was indicted on charges of rape against two women, identified in court documents as Jane Doe I and Jane Doe II. The woman known as Jane Doe I, now identified as Ashley Spencer, spoke publicly to 3News earlier this month.
Little believes that neither she nor Spencer should be nameless and faceless.
“I have a face — and you remember it,” she would like to tell Piter. “I have a name. And you need to remember it.”
Piter, through his attorney, Henry Hilow, maintains his innocence and denies all charges, saying that it’s his name and reputation that are being severely damaged.
Little hopes that putting her name and face to what happened, may give someone else the strength to come forward themselves.
“You can take certain things away from me, but you’re not going to take my power away from me,” she declared.
Piter appeared in Cuyahoga County Common Pleas Court Thursday on the updated charges, with a judge allowing him to remain free but also ordering him to wear a GPS device. Spencer spoke at the hearing via Zoom.