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goes something like, but I like to. And I thought to myself, I heard it all.

sat down and those guys were at a table and we walked by and one of them waved at me, Ward recalled. just kept walking. I ignored him, and then I stopped and thought maybe I know him. I turned around and walked back to the table and said, I know you?

The man, who said his name was asked the women if they would dance once the music started, and they said sure. They took a table across from the four men, finished their drinks and then ordered a second. The disk jockey began playing music, and the women hit the dance floor. The men followed.

Mix in alcohol, impaired judgment and a foggy memory, and the chances against arrest and prosecution climb.

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The dance floor fills, bodies grind together as alcohol is consumed, and sometimes good judgment both men and women flight. The last time Ward, 39 at the time and separated from her husband, had stepped foot inside LaSalles was 15 years ago, when it was a fern bar and entertainment hotspot for Chico 30 and 40 something professionals who sipped chardonnay and rocked to cover bands playing songs like Cruise and Louie.

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When she exited the dance floor, Adrian asked if she was OK, noting that she seemed pretty drunk for the limited amount of alcohol she consumed. At about 12:30 they decided to leave. They looked around and saw the men had gone.

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Ward seldom smiles. Any hint of amusement or joy seems to have drained from her face, which is defined by high cheekbones, dark brown eyes and a strong, almost defiant chin. Her skin is smooth, her hair a thatch of fiery red ringlets.

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Ward life would be changed forever on this warm August night in a four hour span during which she would be drugged, raped and robbed in her north Chico home by two younger men from Yuba City who regularly made the weekly trip to Chico for Phat Tuesday.

started to grind up against me, and then he asked me again for my address, Ward recalled.

She again refused. He asked for her phone number.

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Her legs, she said, like noodles. Frankie and one of his friends shuffled her to a corner of the dance floor.

Ward and her friend Adrian decided to go to Phat Tuesday that August night to check out the disk jockey. At the time Ward also worked as a DJ, spinning CDs in the lounge at the Holiday Inn. The DJ working that night at LaSalles had a good reputation in the trade. Ward thought she could pick up some tips to polish her own act.

guy who called himself Frankie asked me for my address, and I just looked at him and said, not going to give you my address. I don know you. I said, happened to asking a girl for her phone number?'

A matter of survival

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Initially she was willing to use her real name and an untouched photo for the story. But after reliving the incident by relating it to the CN she changed her mind, still afraid of possible ramifications more than a year after she was attacked.

She speaks haltingly, resigned to the fact she can change what has happened. She has had to learn to live with her waking nightmare, which includes a divorce, estrangement from her teenage daughter, sleepless nights and an inability to trust anyone fully or ever truly feel safe in her own home.

didn think anything of it, Ward said. girlfriend went back and sat down because she didn want to lose our table. So she kind of leaves Nike Air Zoom Vis Uptempo me out there. We just kind of dancing and that all that is happening.

time later Frankie approached with a rum and Coke in hand, offering it as an apology for his behavior (he had asked Ward earlier on the dance floor what she was drinking).

And, if they are, investigators must first establish that a crime has indeed occurred. Is the alleged victim credible? What about the accused? Even DNA evidence, first brought to the nation attention during the infamous O. J. Simpson murder case 10 years ago, establishes only that the accused was there. He can always say the sex was consensual; that it was enthusiastically shared by both parties and perhaps got a little rough. Think of the Kobe Bryant case.

drank about a third of it, and I thought it didn taste right, she said. went Nike Air Uptempo Black And Red

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As it would turn out, Frankie was in fact Melvin Terrell Halsey; his friend was named Don Juan Smith. Both were from Yuba City, were married and had children.

A bit put off by the man aggressive approach, Ward rejoined Adrian at their table. A short Nike Air More Uptempo Hoh Dusk To Dawn

back out on the dance floor and those guys started dancing with me again and after about 15 minutes I started feeling really funny.

Ward brought her story to the News Review both as a sort of self therapy and to share a cautionary tale with other women telling of the dangers that can lurk below the peaceful surface of a town like Chico.

Rape is a crime that seldom ends with a conviction. Butte County District Attorney Mike Ramsey says his office is successful about 30 percent of the time. Rape Crisis, the community agency that helps rape victims, estimates only 15 percent of rapes are successfully prosecuted because many are never reported.

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But that was a different time in Chico: before students took over the downtown nightclubs and bars, before the wall shuddering beat of hip hop music, and before date rape drugs slipped into the scene.

Even then, there is no guarantee the case will be prosecuted. As a rule, the District Attorney Office files only the cases it believes it can win. And, after all of this, if the victim decides not to testify, which often happens, the case is dead.

She gave Halsey the number, she said, in hopes he would back off.

it to him, she said. is something that I would never do. I didn give my husband my phone number on our first date.

When they first arrived, Adrian went to the bar and ordered two rum and Cokes.

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On Aug. 5, 2003, Vanessa Ward and a friend visited LaSalles in downtown Chico to check out Tuesday, a popular night time theme at the club where a disk jockey spins hip hop music and a diverse crowd gathers, usually packing the joint by midnight.

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