It's been a decade since the attack.

On a February night in 1989, John Nucci and a friend were kidnapped at gunpoint near the Capital Hilton in downtown Washington. Two men forced Nucci to drive them around for two hours.

At the end of the spree, after they had sexually assaulted his companion, the men shot Nucci four times. The bullets hit him in the legs and back as he tried to escape after his assailants told him to pull over to the side of the Capital Beltway so they could take his car.

Nucci nearly bled to death that night. His wounds left him partially paralyzed and he still uses a wheelchair. A Southeast man was sentenced to 85 years to life in prison in connection with the attack on Nucci and several other incidents.

On the day that man was arrested just a few months after the shooting, Nucci was in therapy at the National Rehabilitation Hospital. In November 1989, he started a new business in Bethesda called Missing Link. The temporary employment agency for chefs, cooks and food service workers was a venture by Nucci and Bob Rood, the owner of Flaps, where Nucci was a chef in the 1980s.

In 1994, Nucci took over The Willows, building a new business where earlier restaurants had come and gone.

"I'm the guy who refused to be a victim," he said recently.

CAPTION: JOHN NUCCI. . . "refused to be a victim"