The Washington PostDemocracy Dies in Darkness

‘The man who attacked me works in your kitchen’: Victim of serial groper took justice into her own hands

After Lauren Clark was assaulted while running in Northwest Washington in April 2013, she began to see her attacker near her home and the salon where she worked. (Carolyn Van Houten/The Washington Post)

Nearly six years ago, on an unseasonably warm April night in Washington, Lauren Clark was cooling down from a jog when she spotted a man in the distance. She quickened her pace, hurried past him and, for a moment, considered crossing the street.

Her fear seemed irrational — paranoid, even — until the threat became real. 

The man grabbed the slender 27-year-old hairstylist from behind, thrust his hand between her legs and covered her mouth. He slammed her body to the sidewalk. A pair of black spandex leggings was the only barrier between her and the hand that would not let go.

Rape seemed imminent. Death, quite possible. Clark flipped from her stomach onto her back and clawed the man’s face. Her fingernails dug into his skin and tore off his eyeglasses. The man punched her in the face, grabbed her phone and sprinted away.

Lauren Clark shares her story on the Post Reports podcast: ‘All I did was tell the truth.’

The man was caught just minutes later by police, who linked him to an attack against another woman earlier that night. With fresh scratches on his face, he confessed.

 He was a stranger in the dark who attacked Washington’s women when they were alone and vulnerable. This was a statistical anomaly in the world of sex crimes, where most attackers know their victims and the majority of assaults never result in criminal charges.

She was a prosecutor’s dream. After identifying the man at the crime scene, Clark was eager to speak her mind in court. She was unusually vigilant from the start, gathering her own information through police reports and court hearings. 

Altogether, the man admitted to assaulting six women in the District of Columbia.

He was sentenced to 10 days in jail — tailored to two-day stints that best fit his work schedule as a chef rising in prominence within Washington’s vibrant restaurant scene.

Clark could not forget the stranger in the dark. She would see him in her nightmares as she awoke gasping for air and drenched in sweat. She would see him in real life, near her home and her salon.

Clark spent seconds fighting him. She would spend years fighting for justice afterward. 

“I feel like this case was handed to every department of the justice system on a silver platter,” Clark said, telling her story publicly for the first time. “And they f---ed it up. It blows my mind. This should have been an easy one.”

'It felt like a felony'

Hair had always been a passion for Clark. As a teen growing up in the cornfield country of rural Illinois, she studied the latest trends in fashion magazines and styled her classmates’ hair for homecoming dances. She once tried to make her younger sister Sara look like one of the Olsen twins by cutting choppy layers and flipping out the ends.

The daughter of two mental health professionals, she grew up bold and outspoken. As a fifth-grader, she successfully petitioned the local mom-and-pop store to stop selling candy cigarettes.

Clark briefly attended community college but dropped out to work at a salon. Hair could offer what the classroom could not: a creative outlet and a chance to make other women feel confident. The salon led her to cosmetology school in the Washington area and she ultimately moved into the city.

Like many men and women in the District, Clark turned to the city streets for an affordable, reliable workout. The rhythmic pounding on the pavement was therapeutic for the 5-foot-5-inch hair stylist after a day spent dealing with a stream of clients.

At around 8 p.m., April 10, 2013, Clark wrapped up her shift at Immortal Beloved, a popular salon on 14th Street. She went home to her basement apartment in Glover Park, changed into leggings and a tank top and took off for a late-night run. She stopped to sit along the waterfront in Georgetown and took photos of the cherry blossoms in peak bloom.

At around 11:45 p.m., near 37th Street NW and Tunlaw Road, she was attacked.

After the man fled, Clark leaped to her feet and chased him briefly. She flagged down a Metropolitan Police officer. Minutes later, she identified her attacker as he walked alone on 37th Street. 

Earlier that night, near the Naval Observatory, just a short walk from where Clark was attacked, a man had approached a 27-year-old woman stopped at a traffic light on her motorized scooter. The man grabbed her buttocks and vaginal area. She yelled and drove off, and the man fled into the nearby bushes. The woman returned home and called 911.

A sexual assault detective, Yvette Maupin, swabbed Clark’s hands for DNA and shared good news: The man she identified had fresh scratches on his face. A promising case had just become a slam-dunk.

The man was headed to jail, the detective told Clark, and Clark said she was told he would face a felony charge.

The day after the crime, with bandages on her arms and a swollen nose, Clark styled the hair of a bride-to-be and then canceled the rest of her appointments. She met a close friend at Le Diplomate, a new restaurant on 14th Street. Over lunch, Clark told her story.

She struggled with her words. Revealing how she had been touched felt too personal, too specific, too invasive.

After lunch, Clark visited the closest police station. She requested the police report and pored over the details of her assailant. For the first time, a name: Jayro A. Cruz. An age: 24.

And, the police department’s classification of the crime: third-degree sexual abuse by force, a felony, and robbery, also a felony.

Historically, groping offenses have been charged as misdemeanors because of an absence of aggravating factors that would warrant a felony, such as penetration or a verbal threat to rape or kill.

In Cruz’s case, the combination of the tackling, the sexual contact and the punch appeared to meet the definition of felony sexual abuse under D.C. law — sexual contact by using force, according to the D.C. code.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Sharon Marcus-Kurn instead charged Cruz with several misdemeanor crimes in D.C. Superior Court: misdemeanor sexual abuse for the attacks on Clark and the woman near the Naval Observatory, misdemeanor assault for the punch and second-degree theft for taking Clark’s cellphone.

Cruz was released until further hearings.

The misdemeanors came as a second blow to Clark.

“It felt like a felony,” Clark said.

Marcus-Kurn, who now heads the office’s sex offense unit, declined to comment. A spokesman from the U.S. attorney’s office issued the following statement:

“The U.S. Attorney’s Office is committed to the prosecution of those who commit sexual assaults in the District of Columbia,” spokesman Bill Miller said. “We typically do not comment on specific charging decisions and have no comment on this particular case. Charging decisions are made on a case-by-case basis. Generally, we assess each case based on its circumstances, thoroughly considering factors such as the applicable laws, the nature and seriousness of the offense, the evidence in the case, whether the victim wishes to prosecute the case, and the defendant’s criminal history.”

In June 2013, within two months of the attack, Cruz signed a plea deal. In exchange, prosecutors dropped the theft and one of the two sexual abuse charges related to the attack on the woman by the Naval Observatory.

Five months after the crimes, Clark took a seat near the front of the courtroom for Cruz’s sentencing. Cruz sat on the other side of the aisle, accompanied by his mother. 

On the bench was Judge Truman Morrison, a staple of D.C. Superior Court. The then-69-year-old former public defender had been nominated by President Jimmy Carter and had served as a judge for decades. Through a court spokeswoman, Morrison, now with senior status, declined to comment for this story.

Clark had spent hours working on her victim-impact statement. When she stood to speak, the judge told her to project her voice to be heard.

She began.

April 10th was a Wednesday. That Wednesday evening found itself nestled into the peak of our cherry blossom season. As I jogged through my neighborhood I thought it must’ve been one of the most beautiful nights I had ever seen in DC. The way the flowers hung from the branches, the spring scent that lingered in the air, the details from that night are still vivid in my mind.

What began as such a pretty night quickly became the ugliest I’ve ever experienced. Those details remain just as vivid and they always will.

A forceful hand over my mouth. Another between my legs. The collision of a man’s body against mine. The pavement. The panic. The pain.

The sentencing

The sentencing unfolded over four hearings in the fall of 2013, in part because Judge Morrison wanted to reflect on his decision.

Early on, the prosecutor revealed a bombshell:

“The defendant acknowledged that he committed this same kind of offense on four other occasions with four different victims and it is the government’s understanding the defendant was never arrested or charged for these acts.” 

The admission was in a report by the Court Services and Offender Supervision Agency (CSOSA) — a federal agency responsible for interviewing offenders in the District before sentencing.

The prosecutor said, “If it wasn’t for the fact that these two brave women contacted the authorities —”

The judge cut him off.

“Right,” Morrison said. “We surely would have not known about the other events. It is extraordinary. I mean, I’ve been a judge for more than 30 years. . . . I’ve never seen such a thing.” 

Lee Smith, Cruz’s defense attorney, said the new admission was evidence of honesty and remorse.

“It’s kind of hard to face down one’s demons, at times,” Smith said. “I think he had time to think about it. He thought this is the right thing to do . . . so that he can get the help ultimately that he needs.”

Cruz was born and raised in the District, and when he was 12, his father died of cirrhosis of the liver caused by alcoholism. The death had a “profound effect” on Cruz, leaving him withdrawn and without sufficient emotional resources to cope, Smith said.

He said incarceration would be a “Band-Aid.” Instead, Smith recommended probation with “a plethora of services and programs” designed to “address the core issue” of Cruz’s behavior.

The defense attorney attributed that behavior to alcohol abuse. Cruz had consumed roughly 20 drinks in the eight hours before the assaults, he said.

“Very, very, very few people get intoxicated and walk up to people they’ve never met, women on the streets, sexually assault them, throw them to the ground and beat them,” the judge said in response.

Cruz apologized and said he had stopped drinking.

“There’s no excuse for and there’s not a day that goes by where I don’t think about what I’ve done and feel disgusted with myself,” he told the judge. “I know that there’s no reason why you should look at me as a good person because what I’ve done is not something a good person would do.”

Prosecutor Danny Nguyen recommended a jail sentence of six months for the crimes against Clark and three months for the offense against the second woman.

Morrison wanted to take more time to think about the “difficult and unusual case,” one marked by “dramatic gratuitous violence” on “total stranger women.” It was as “serious a misdemeanor as a judge sees,” he remarked. But he was also struck by what he perceived as genuine remorse from Cruz. 

Clark left the hearing feeling as if she had done all she could. She decided not to attend the next hearing three days later.

At the next hearing, the judge said he had decided to hand down a 10-day jail sentence. But Smith, Cruz’s attorney, said that could result in Cruz losing his job as head chef at the Brixton, a British-style pub at Ninth and U Streets NW.

“He not only works in the kitchen, he actually is the chef. He runs the kitchen. There’s no one above him to run the kitchen,” Smith said.

Two weeks later, on Oct. 15, 2013, Cruz finally received his sentence. Clark was not there, having already missed work for two hearings.

Morrison ordered Cruz to serve 10 days in jail on his days off, Mondays and Tuesdays, and to stay 80 days in a halfway house. Cruz also received five years of probation, the maximum under the law.

Additionally, he would be barred from contacting Clark or the other victim. 

He was not placed on the sex offender registry, a decision not up to the judge but determined by the severity of the offenses. 

But the judge instructed that Cruz receive assessment, therapy and oversight from CSOSA’s sex-offense supervision unit.

Earlier, the judge had called it “extremely rigorous supervision,” noting it “is not just calling your probation officer every three weeks and checking in.” 

Nguyen called Clark afterward to tell her about the sentence. Clark was at Stoney’s, a pub on P Street, and stepped outside to take the call.

She was disappointed, but she had prepared herself for that. It was only misdemeanors, after all.

She asked whether Cruz would be a registered sex offender. Nguyen said no.

Cruz was now working as a chef at the Brixton, Nguyen told her. That was another blow. She had been there for drinks just two weeks after the assault.

On Halloween, six months after the assault, Clark went out dressed as a New York Times crossword puzzle. She took a cab to El Centro, a Mexican restaurant on 14th Street. Outside, she watched as a line grew in front of the Black Cat, a popular bar with live music.

There was Cruz. About 20 feet away, wearing a plaid flannel shirt. Clark gasped. She entered the restaurant but left after one drink. 

Too close for comfort

Cruz is a self-taught chef who worked his way up in Washington restaurants over the past decade. Many of his co-workers describe him as quiet and ambitious. He was notable enough for restaurants to promote his cooking on their websites.

“Chef Jayro is driven to create food that people want to eat, rather than Chef’s [sic] want to cook!” proclaimed the downtown Hilton Garden Inn, his most recent employer. “In an era of entrée’s [sic] with 30 ingredients most have never heard of, plated every so delicately with tweezers, a solid plate of food cooked simply and with loving care is what has always inspired Jayro.”

In 2014, the year after Cruz’s conviction, the young chef earned a big opportunity: a post at Vidalia, a well-regarded restaurant with distinctive Southern cuisine. The following year, Cruz was promoted to chef de cuisine, the top job in the kitchen under James Beard Award-winning chef and co-owner Jeff Buben, who told The Post at the time that Cruz was “the next generation that’s going to push us forward.”

In the months after the sentencing, Clark kept watch over Cruz’s whereabouts. She learned that he was working at Vidalia through a Google search. Vidalia, at 20th and M streets NW, was about a block from her new West End ground-floor apartment at 21st Street and New Hampshire Avenue.

“I thought, ‘Oh my God, I’m right around the corner from him,’ ” she said.

She wondered whether he was legally bound from being within a certain distance of her home. She frantically searched online for answers. Her query led her to the website of the Network for Victim Recovery of DC — a nonprofit group that provides free legal services for crime victims.

From her attorney, Kristin Eliason, Clark learned that the stay-away order entered in the criminal case had specified only no contact with the victims. She could go to civil court for a protection order that prohibited Cruz from a specific geographic area around her home and salon. The order was granted in September 2014 and was good for one year.

The next month, Clark said, she was with her boyfriend on her patio just past 9 p.m. when a white Honda pulled into a nearby parking space. A man and woman emerged from the car. It was Cruz.

She made eye contact with him, she said, and cried herself to sleep that night.

'I can't explain the lapse'

Clark occasionally checked the D.C. Superior Court website for information about Cruz’s case. It gave Clark comfort to review the file and to know that someone was watching him.

But she started having panic attacks. She turned to therapy to cope and tried to forget Cruz, to will away his image. 

One day in the spring of 2017, Clark and her sister went to Georgetown to shop. They passed through the West End, and Clark saw that Vidalia had closed.

She was panicked. She did not know Cruz’s whereabouts. She went to his Instagram page for the first time in months. She scrolled through the photos and found Cruz had joined Le Diplomate as a chef near the end of 2016.

Clark went to Le Diplomate quite often. Just before Christmas 2016, she joined friends for a shared meal of beef bourguignon, ravioli and a cheese plate.

She had eaten a meal that might have been prepared by the hands that violated her. Suddenly, she felt nauseated.

The shopping trip with her sister was cut short. 

On her cellphone, she loaded the website for D.C. Superior Court. The long-dormant case had curious new notations. On April 10, 2017 — exactly four years after the assaults — a hearing was held in the case and Cruz was moved from supervised probation to unsupervised probation. No explanation was given.

She called her attorney.

When Eliason reviewed the court case, she was alarmed.

Clark had a right to be notified about any public hearing involving her case under the 2004 Crime Victims’ Rights Act.

An audiotape of the hearing held startling revelations:

A probation officer told Judge Morrison there had been a major mistake — Cruz was supposed to undergo an initial evaluation to flag mental health issues, substance abuse problems and develop a plan to treat his violent tendencies. Somehow, Cruz had never received the evaluation.

Cruz had not received any customized treatment from CSOSA’s sex-offender supervision unit. Rather, he had been monitored as if he were a low-level drug offender, with urine tests and a check-in with an officer every three weeks.

“So CSOSA has been supervising him since the fall of 2013 and you are now for the first time, three and a half years later, asking for an assessment?” Morrison asked the probation officer.

“I can’t explain the lapse,” the officer said.

“Anything you want to say, Mr. Cruz? Are you still a chef?” the judge asked.

“I am,” Cruz said.

“Where?” the judge asked.

“Le Diplomate on 14th Street.”



“Moved up in the world?” the judge asked.

“Yes, sir.”

The judge noted that Cruz seemed to be doing well. He had not been rearrested. His probation officer reported that his urine had tested clean.

The judge decided that there was no sense in going back to the first step if Cruz seemed to be doing well. He moved him off supervised probation. 

“So because you have done so well, Mr. Cruz, all you have to do from now until five years from October 25, 2013, is up is just not break any law anywhere. Do you understand?” the judge asked him.

Cruz said yes.

“All right, I wish you good luck,” the judge said. “You are to be commended for your compliance.”

CSOSA declined to answer any questions for this story. An independent federal agency, CSOSA does not come under the authority of D.C. government nor does it answer to the Justice Department. Congress has oversight over the agency and its director, who is appointed to a six-year term by the president of the United States. The agency has an interim director, James D. Berry Jr.

“This case demonstrates the necessity of accountability and transparency in our criminal justice system — and the tragedy that occurs in its absence,” said Kevin Donahue, deputy mayor for public safety and justice. “While District government agencies are accountable to Mayor Bowser, the Council, and our residents, there is no such clear line of accountability for the federal agencies that run most of the District’s criminal justice system.

“When breakdowns happen in local agencies, there are consequences. There are personnel actions, oversight hearings, audits, legislative changes, and relentless public scrutiny. Silence and intransigence as a response to failure are not options. Where there is a need for reform and transparency, I hope CSOSA recognizes that and follows through on it.”

'Violated. Victimized. Traumatized'

The knowledge that Cruz worked at Le Diplomate ate at Clark. He was no longer the anonymous man in the dark. He was within her own enclave of the District’s service industry, among the salon workers and restaurant employees who mingled over drinks at 14th Street bars. 

She wanted to contact Le Diplomate, to let them know what Cruz had done to her. 

She called a close friend, longtime local bar manager Said Haddad, for advice. Haddad knew Cruz slightly and was shaken by the allegations. Haddad described the case as a “huge gut check” within the close-knit D.C. restaurant community. “It’s an industry that welcomes all, no matter what your background is,” he later told The Post. 

Experts say the restaurant industry has a well-documented problem with sexual harassment that extends from the host stand to the kitchen. An environment with little oversight, late hours and tight spaces is prone to abuse.

“The culture is one in which men are not just allowed but encouraged, in some senses, by their employers to behave in these ways,” said Saru Jayaraman, president of the Restaurant Opportunities Center United, a restaurant worker advocacy group that published a 2014 study called “The Glass Floor: Sexual Harassment in the Restaurant Industry.”

As a result, Jayaraman said, “a very large number of sexual harassers and predators” are able to “actually thrive in the restaurant industry.”

As a manager, Haddad had seen situations that left women alone and vulnerable late at night, closing down restaurants or bars in the company of just one other person. For that reason, Haddad felt firmly that someone like Cruz had no place in a restaurant. 

“Find something else to do,” he said.

Haddad helped Clark by proofreading an anonymous letter to Le Diplomate, suggesting she tone down the anger toward the restaurant. She revised it and entrusted him to deliver it to a contact at Le Diplomate. 

 The man who attacked me works in your kitchen. His name is Jayro Cruz. He was arrested for sexually assaulting me and another woman. He pled guilty to the charges and in court he admitted to assaulting four other women. Six women. Violated. Victimized. Traumatized.

 Imagine girlfriends meeting for cocktails at your bar and coming across the face of a predator or a family sitting down to order a meal and learning it had been prepared by hands that have abused so many women. 

At the end of the letter, Clark said she would be launching an awareness campaign about Cruz in early June. She said she did not desire to tarnish the reputation of Le Diplomate. She urged the restaurant to “do the right thing.”

The fliers

On June 6, 2017, Clark handed out the fliers to managers at restaurants and bars along 14th Street. In bright red font: THIS MAN HAS ASSAULTED SIX WOMEN IN DC.  

There were three photos of Cruz. Two showed him in his chef’s apron.

An image of his Superior Court case docket included case numbers. “52% of D.C. residents are women. This man and men like him are a danger to 100% of them.”

Clark stayed quiet on social media about making the fliers. She feared what Cruz would do if he knew what she had done.

Word traveled quickly. The fliers soon appeared online. The Washington City Paper wrote a story about Cruz working at Le Diplomate. Threads on Facebook filled with comments. Women came forward online with allegations against Cruz. 

Emily Schimmel had just emerged from a Pilates class when she got a text about the flier. Schimmel told The Post that she met Cruz in early 2016 through OkCupid and they dated for several months. In April 2016, she said, he engaged in sexual contact with her when she was drunk and unable to give consent. She said she had passed out in her bed and awoke to find Cruz naked, and herself unclothed, with no memory of what had happened. She did not report the incident to police.

Schimmel, now 31, said she had no idea that Cruz had a criminal history.

“I sat in my car and cried for an hour,” she said of hearing about the fliers. “I was so angry that the justice system had failed enough that he was able to do this again.”

The Post asked Cruz for an interview to discuss both the handling of his criminal case and the subsequent allegations against him from other women.

Cruz provided a one-paragraph statement to The Post.

“In this day and age I believe it is important that women have space to talk about sexual assault and their recovery from trauma,” he said. “Those stories are important and deserving of respect. I do not believe the addition of my story at this time will help move the conversation forward. For the people I have hurt I can only hope that they are able to find peace. There is no excusing my actions. I can not take them back but will continue to try and learn from my mistakes in hopes that I make up for the harm I have caused.”

Some were critical of Clark’s decision to engage in the public shaming. When recently asked about the fliers, Eliason, Clark’s attorney, paused before answering. “She finds her strength in being outspoken,” Eliason said.

Two months after the fliers were distributed, Cruz no longer worked at the restaurant. A Le Diplomate spokesman declined to comment for this story, citing employment privacy practices.  

Several women have told The Post that Cruz had behaved sexually inappropriately toward women in the workplace, before and after the charged crimes. All said they did not know, until recently, that Cruz had a history of documented sexual violence. 

In 2011, two years before the assault against Clark, Cruz was employed at Blackbyrd, which has since closed. Nikki MG Cole, an advocate for D.C. restaurant workers, said she worked with Cruz there. She remembered an incident in which Cruz had snapped loose the bra of another female server, who ran back to the kitchen in tears, plate still in hand. The woman complained, Cole said, and Cruz later told her he had been fired.

Ian Hilton, co-owner of three of the bars that employed Cruz — the Brixton, Chez Billy and Blackbyrd — said in an email: “I vaguely remember hearing that Cruz had a run-in with the law, but it was characterized as a bar fight …We would never knowingly hire or work with someone who had been convicted of sexual assault.”

When Julianna Clarke, 24, saw the flier, she was shaken. She had worked as a line cook at Vidalia with Cruz. He was her boss.

Clarke told The Post she had consensual sex with Cruz outside of work before and throughout her time at Vidalia. 

“It took me [until] that flier to realize that we were never dating,” Clarke said. “He just manipulated me into this relationship and I could never ever say no.”

She said Cruz would berate her in front of other employees and grope her in the restaurant while others were not looking. Frequently, he would corner her in the storage room, and grope her breasts or pressure her into having sex. She did not tell anyone at the time or report the incident to police.

“It was an everyday thing. There was no escaping,” said Clarke. “It was the perfect place for something like that happen, which is why he’s got away with it for so long.”

Cruz later wrote her an apology email: “I’m sorry if I made work a living hell for you and I’m sorry I wasn’t more sensitive to you . . . I hurt you in both professional and private ways and I’m sorry for that,” he wrote in an email that Clarke shared with The Post. Clarke did not respond to him. 

Another woman who worked at Vidalia — who spoke on the condition of anonymity because she feared reprisal — alleged that Cruz once kissed her without her consent and would penetrate her with his fingers in the storage room.

“Every day working there was just torture,” the woman said. 

She did not tell anyone at the time, either, but she and Julianna Clarke confided in each other after the flier became public, both women said.

Former Vidalia executive chef Hamilton Johnson said he “was definitely not aware” of Cruz’s pleas to the sex crimes and it would have affected his decision to hire him, had he known. “There was never any issues that I know of” in regards to Cruz’s temper or his behavior with women in the restaurant, Johnson said.

Cruz’s criminal record is available online through a search function at the D.C. Superior Court website. 

Vidalia co-owner Sallie Buben told The Post in an email that she and her husband were not aware of Cruz’s record or of any allegations from employees. “If anyone had brought an issue to our attention we would have investigated, and we are confident we would have taken appropriate action,” Buben wrote. “We do check references on applicants we are going to hire, but as a general practice we do not run criminal background checks.”

It is not standard practice in the restaurant industry to perform criminal background checks.

'This trauma changed me forever'

In the wake of creating the fliers that summer, Clark struggled to sleep. It had been four years since the attack. She used to feel bold and brave, but no longer. She was angry. She was scared. 

On July 27, 2017, Eliason filed a motion with Judge Morrison requesting a new hearing on the grounds that Clark was not notified of the earlier hearing.

In September 2017, the Cruz case was once again called for a hearing in Morrison’s courtroom. 

The judge admitted he had erred in not notifying Clark about the previous hearing, which he said was “clearly in violation of the statutory rights” of the victim.

 “I didn’t notice it,” he said in court. “I should have thought of it even though as a practical matter it’s the prosecutor rather than the court that informs people in that circumstance.”

In a statement to The Post, the U.S. attorney’s office said it is committed to upholding the rights of crime victims:

“The U.S. Attorney’s Office takes its obligations under the federal and District of Columbia victims’ rights statutes very seriously and sent out more than 46,000 notification letters in calendar year 2018 alerting victims to court proceedings through an automated system triggered by the receipt of hearing dates from the Court. The system works well, but it is not perfect, and we will continue working with the Court to address any underlying notification issues that hindered our ability to provide notice in this case. Fortunately, the hearing was reopened, and the victim had an opportunity not only to attend but also to be heard.”

With her sister and close friends looking on, Clark addressed the court.

The last time I was here I already knew this trauma changed me forever. But at that time I had no way of knowing how this man would continue to bring pain and suffering into my life. Four years later, I have much more to say.  

. . .

I understand why survivors of sexual assault don’t report the crimes committed against them. It’s like signing up to be re- traumatized. It’s a battle that tethers us to pain we never asked for and that we most certainly never deserved. However, I’m here today, to say that this man has done more than enough to deserve the sentence you imposed on him four years ago and he still deserves it today.  

Her words appeared to have a profound effect on Morrison.

“I’ve been a judge now for 37 years and I don’t remember ever having heard a more eloquent or forceful articulation of what it was like to be a victim in a case like this than the one that you’ve just rendered,” he said.

Morrison reversed his decision and mandated CSOSA to provide the assessment to Cruz that it had failed to provide four years earlier. But Cruz’s five-year probation term was running out. He would finally get treatment but only for about a year.

After his departure from Le Diplomate, Cruz briefly worked at restaurants in Alexandria and Bethesda. Earlier this year, he was head chef at the Grist Mill at the downtown Hilton Garden Inn. After inquiries from The Post, he left the job in October. In a statement, the interim general manager said “we have no further information to offer regarding this matter.”

Clark won her last court battle with Cruz. But she still lives with what she lost.

The night he attacked me I was out seeking a runner’s high. 

I haven’t gone on a run since. 

Not once.

Note: This article has been updated with additional information about the prosecutor’s recommendation for Cruz’s sentence and additional comment from Ian Hilton.