by Michelle Simonsen
When I was 19, I came home from college for the weekend to my hometown of Racine, Wisconsin. It was midnight and I was driving on a busy main road. However, that night the busy street was desolate. Except for the car following closely behind me. The driver came around to my passenger side keeping a steady pace alongside me. I did not want to look over. I was scared. It was a man laughing and flashing his genitals at me. He pressed his buttocks on the window and molested himself with his hand.
My little Ford Escort went from 30 mph to 60 mph. I was suddenly in the Indy 500, swerving, mastering the sharp turns, up and down every side street and main road. No matter how fast I drove, he kept up, trying to follow me home.
After approximately 15 minutes of the cat and mouse game, I finally lost him. I was free and almost home. My vision was clouded with the images of the perverse things he did to himself. I replayed the entire incident in my head all night. I didn’t call 911. I just wanted to go to sleep and go back to school.
The next weekend was Easter. For the second time that month, I was in Racine again, shuttling between my parents for the holiday.
It was midnight. I was on the same road. It was desolate. Everything I experienced the weekend before was there again. I sensed it a mile away. I was prepared for him this time.
I saw headlights in my mirror and a red truck riding my ass. It was him again. His change of vehicle didn’t fool me. He proceeded to perform his act, identical to the weekend before. I wasn’t scared. I was angry. Damnit, I was pissed! I said to myself, “Dude, you have messed with the wrong girl.” I grabbed a pen and wrote down his license plate number on my leg.
I endured the same high speed wild goose chase, and managed to lose him again. As soon as I got home I called 911 and reported the incident, gave them his license number and the general direction he was headed when I last saw him.
Two hours later, the phone rang. The police called to informed that they arrested the ugly red headed psycho pervert. His name was Ronnie Lonhardt and he was 35. In order to press charges, I had to come downtown to write up a report and identify him. Are you crazy? I have to look at that maggot again? To this day, I’ve never forgotten his face, and my memory didn’t fail me that night either.
He was charged with a DUI and an additional charge for “lewd and lascivious” behavior. Turns out he confessed to police that he had been doing this to dozens women that month alone. Go figure. (Note: After a criminal records check, the red headed pervert pled down to four separate “Disorderly Conduct” charges. Two were dismissed at the request of the prosecutor, and the other two were forfeited. Thanks Racine County Prosecutors.)
For years I had issues with driving at night. I was fixated with who was behind me, and I never looked at the person to my side out of fear. I carried a knife. Was I paranoid or justified in my fears?
AN EVERYDAY OCCURRENCE
Exhibitionism. Voyeurism. Groping. Frotteurism. Many women have experienced any one of these crimes at some time in their lives. Most offenders will get away. I did not let my offender get away. In my mind, I believed I might have averted another sex crime.
These invisible offenders are grooming themselves for their next deviant act in order to heighten and satisfy their sexual pleasure. Could it be rape? Sex with a child? Child pornography? Some experts insist that these initial “minor” sex crimes lead to worse crimes. Is this a risk you’d rather ignore until it happens to you, a friend, a sister, a mother, a daughter?
What are these “invisible sex crimes”? These particular offenses are the most under-reported sex assaults. Why? Because it happens when you least expect it. Did you see his face? You can’t remember because it happened so fast and you were in shock and embarrassed. What do you say or do? By the time you figure out what is going on, they are dust in the wind. These acts against women happen everyday.
Groping is a form of sex harassment. It can be unwanted pinching or grabbing. The groper targets the breasts, legs, buttocks and groin area. Groping is likely to happen in such places like crowded bars or parties, concerts, subways, sporting events and elevators. The predator is less likely to be detected and has the ability to flee before the victim realizes what happened.
Ever see this scenario? A waitress takes an order and walks away from the table. Her male customer swiftly slaps her buttocks in a “joking” manner saying, “Thanks sweetheart.” Have you ever experienced the unfortunate incident of a man rubbing his arm against your breast, then laughing it off saying, “Ooops! Sorry about that!”
Ladies, that was no accident.
"I went to a music festival in a big park last year, and people had crowded together to see the headliner. It was dark except for the streetlight and stage lights up ahead, and I was encircled by young men. One or more of them kept subtly touching me inappropriately. I tried to squirm my way out to another location, but there just was no room to squeeze through. I had to endure the harassment for the whole show.” (Anonymous post, Wiesen, 2003-2012 Conjecture Corporation, “What is Groping?”)
“Every now and then, I will feel a hand squeeze my butt or leg so gently and then hear a voice say, “Oh excuse me!” I know that it was intentional, because if it had been an accident, it would have been more of a brush or a swipe rather than a cupping.” (Id.)
“I had the misfortune of getting groped while exiting a crowded elevator and I was more mad than anything. It is such a violation of your personal space and I hate knowing there are so many perverts out there that can get away with things like that just because there are so many people around.” (Id.)
Frotteurism is the act of rubbing the hand(s) or erect genitals against another person in a non-consensual manner in order for sexual gratification. Like groping, this act is done in public where the victim cannot easily respond to their attacker.
Studies have concluded that the average age of a “frotteur” is between 15-25, beginning at puberty and decreasing after 25. (PsychNet, 1998.) It was also noted that “older men with shy and reserved personalities or who are withdrawn socially” are common frotteurs. (Id.)
I have been a victim of many frotteurs in my day. When it happened, I became enraged. There have been times where I have grabbed the pervert, and screamed out to everyone within earshot what just happened. There was never a shortage of shit-stains who hadn’t experienced my wrath. Slapping, punching, pushing…nothing was ever out of the question for me. I wasn’t going down without a fight.
However, in each situation I was the ultimate loser. What the hell just happened? Where am I going to find this guy? I didn’t know who he was, I don’t remember what he was wearing. I was shocked, angered, and out of control. What did he look like?
I don’t know. He looked like them all. They all look alike.
These offenders are formerly known as “peeping Toms”. But times, they are a changin’. With the advent of cameras, electronics, and other digital technology, voyeurism is out in full force.
This is the only sex crime where the offender doesn’t need to have direct contact with his victim. His crimes do not occur in public. A voyeur doesn’t need to stand in front of your window with binoculars. He won’t have any witnesses to his crime because he is safely sitting behind his computer, sometimes watching multiple women at once. Voyeurism is one of the hardest sex crimes to prosecute because of the predator’s elusiveness and ability of non-detection.
It is absolutely necessary that we come together to stop these future violent sex offenders. See the statistics below. No matter how bleak, this is true: we are the ones that hold the power to make change. Victims need to stand up, not only for themselves, but for the others who are too afraid to come forward. As sad as the statistics below are, just remember, if it weren’t for those courageous women, there would be even more predators on the streets. They are always ready and waiting.
STATISTICS: RAPISTS ARE WALKING FREE
54% of rapes/sexual assaults are not reported to the police, according to a statistical average of the past 5 years. Those rapists, of course, never spend a day in prison. Factoring in unreported rapes, only about 3% of rapists ever serve a day in jail.
Out of Every 100 Rapes
- 46 get reported to the police
- 12 lead to an arrest
- 9 get prosecuted
- 5 lead to a felony conviction
- 3 rapists will spend even a single day in prison
Justice Department, National Crime Victimization Survey: 2006-2010
FBI, Uniform Crime Reports: 2006-2010
National Center for Policy Analysis, Crime and Punishment in America, 1999
Department of Justice, Felony Defendants in Large Urban Counties: Average of 2002-2006
Michelle Simonsen is an outspoken activist and true crime blogger well known for the grass-roots campaign,"Boycott Aruba," surrounding the time of the Natalee Holloway disappearance.