If you’ve seen Netflix’s heartwrenching new documentary Victim/Suspect, you’re surely wondering about the well-being of the women featured in it. So we asked the lead investigative reporter, Rae de Leon, to update us on how each woman is faring since the harrowing experiences depicted in the documentary.
If you haven’t seen Victim/Suspect, we recommend it. The Netflix film, which debuted at Sundance and is a partnership between Motto Pictures and the Center for Investigative Reporting Studios, follows de Leon as she uncovers an alarming pattern of police responding to women’s complaints of sexual assault by investigating the women — and accusing them of lying. The film shows that in several cases, police made glaring mistakes.
How Is Emma Mannion Doing Now?
As the documentary explains, Mannion reported being raped when she was an 18-year-old college student at the University of Alabama. Police later informed her that they believed she was lying, and arrested her for filing a false police report.
“Emma is doing really well. She is an owner of a dance studio,” de Leon told MovieMaker. “She’s making really big moves and doing the thing that she dreamed about doing since she was really young. She’s been dancing her whole life. She was a dance teacher for a while, now she owns a studio.”
Mannion has a page on the Survivor Voices section of the End Violence Against Women International website, where she describes what happened to her and how she’s healing from it.
“I was raped in a vehicle, in a gravel parking lot, outside of a well-known bar near campus. I spent the following day in bed and in denial. How could that have happened? The week following my rape was more shocking. My hospital experience was horrible; my interview with the detectives took place in my exam room while I was by myself, wearing nothing but a hospital gown. Within 3 days they told me they didn’t believe me, that I had wasted their time, and that they needed to arrest me for falsifying a report,” she wrote.
“The police didn’t believe me, news outlets made a mockery of me, and five years later I’m still trying to tell my story. The unfortunate part in all of this was that I was never given the privilege or right to process my rape; I was too busy processing the re-traumatization from the police. I hope to continue growing and spreading awareness. I hope to make my voice and all of the voices around us heard.”
How Is Nikki Yovino Doing Now?
Though Yovino doesn’t speak in the film, her case is discussed at length. Yovino was in college at Sacred Heart University when she accused two football players of raping her in the bathroom at a party. The two football players were never questioned by police, and instead, Yovino was charged with filing a false police report and accused of making the whole thing up.
But in an interview de Leon conducted with Detective Walberto Cotto Jr. of the Bridgeport Police Department, he admitted to lying to Yovino while questioning her — police call this tactic a “ruse,” or the Reid technique — in order to manipulate her into confessing. He also admitted that he didn’t know that one of the football players Yovino accused of assaulting her had been accused of another sexual assault just one month before Yovino’s incident.
“Nikki’s doing okay. Every now and then I hear from her. She’s been through a lot,” de Leon says. “She was sentenced to a year in prison after she pled guilty. And I think she was just understandably like, I can’t be a part of this film. Like, you can tell the story, but I cannot actively participate in it, which I completely respect. And she’s doing okay.”
Now, the two football players are suing Yovino for defamation.
How Is Dyanie Bermeo Doing Now?
Bermeo says in Victim/Suspect that she was stopped by a man impersonating a police officer and sexually assaulted. The police did not find a suspect and instead charged Bermeo with filing a false police report.
Bermeo was ultimately cleared of the charges. Now, she’s suing Virginia’s Washington County Sherriff’s Department on a dozen allegations including fraud, intentional infliction of emotional distress, and malicious prosecution, according to The Charlotte Observer.
De Leon says that despite all of the ongoing legal action, Dyanie Bermeo is “doing really well.”
“She is in the court process of suing the sheriff’s department, and that is going through all the normal things that a lawsuit goes through. I’m sure it’s a long ways out from any kind of conclusion,” de Leon adds.
How Is Megan Rondini’s Dad Doing Now?
Megan Rondini was the 20-year-old University of Alabama student who accused 34-year-old T.J. Bunn of raping her in 2015. Bunn, described in the documentary as a powerful man in town, denied raping Rondini, and the police didn’t arrest him. The case was passed on to the Tuscaloosa County District Attorney’s Office, but Rondini tragically took her own life. A grand jury decided not to indict Bunn.
Rondini’s parents filed a wrongful death lawsuit against Bunn, the University of Alabama, the University’s President Stuart Bell, Tuscaloosa County Sheriff Ron Abernathy, and two investigators, according to USA Today. The family argued that they caused damage to Rondini’s mental health, which ultimately led to her suicide.
Rondini’s mother has since passed away, but her father continues to fight for justice for his late daughter.
“Megan’s dad, Mike — I don’t know how clear this was in the film, but her mom passed away about a year after I had met her. So that is really hard,” De Leon says. “But her dad, Mike, he’s just taking it with all the strength of… just an amazing person. And he’s providing scholarships for police and prosecutors to get better training on trauma-informed investigations. He has a scholarship at the University of Alabama for students, if I’m not mistaken, so he is really still working on trying to do something.”
Victim/Suspect is now streaming on Netflix.
Main Image: Emma Mannion pictured in Victim/Suspect courtesy of Netflix.