SARDINIA, N.Y. (WIVB) — A former real estate agent in Sardinia, New York, finally has an answer about whether the man who beat, raped, and kidnapped her 25 years ago will walk free.
Ramona Bantle-Fahy was a 33 year old real estate agent in 1992 when a man called for an appointment to see a house for sale on a Sunday afternoon. She went to meet him alone. In the vacant house, after what seemed like a normal house showing, the man attacked her, tied her hands, threatened her with a knife, and raped her. Later he would push her down the stairs, shove her into the trunk of his car, and drive away.
Inside the dark trunk, Ramona was able to free her hands and work on opening the trunk lock. She lifted the trunk lid enough to recognize that the car was traveling on Rt.16 in Delevan and when the car slowed down, she jumped out of the trunk and ran for help in a nearby trailer park.
Using Ramona’s description of the man and his car, police followed tips and arrested 30 year old David Graczyk who lived near the vacant house where the attack happened. Graczyk had a prior conviction for obscene phone calls and breaking into a Lancaster home to steal women’s underwear. He was also a state prison guard.
Graczyk pleaded guilty to 8 counts against him including rape, kidnapping, and sexual abuse. Justice Mario Rosetti listened to Ramona’s story and referred to the letters of many other local realtors who described the fear they felt on the job because of Graczyk’s actions. He sentenced Graczyk to up to 114 years in prison, but because of a sentencing statute the prison term became 25 to 50 years.
When we first met Ramona last fall she was preparing a victim’s impact statement and asking other women to write letters because her attacker was coming up for parole in Attica. The possibility that he could walk free terrified her.
“So you are fearful of him,” I asked Ramona in November. “Oh, totally fearful,” she said. “Yes!”
A few days ago Ramona got word that the Parole Board voted in late March to deny David Graczyk’s parole for the next two years. She told me, “I was relieved. I don’t feel terrified anymore.”
She says she especially wants to thank the other people who wrote to the parole board seeking to keep her attacker behind bars. She’s been told there was an overwhelming response to her plea.
“It took everybody,” she says. “For whatever you contributed, thank you for taking the time to care.”
Ramona went public with her past because she says she has a responsibility to other women. She still has the red paper “survivor” heart that she wore pinned to her jacket in court almost a quarter century ago. She made a determined choice to speak out on behalf of victims of violent crime and now she says she hopes other women will find the strength to take a stand.
“I’m speaking for all the women and children that were victims of these crimes because I can. It isn’t easy, but I’m strong — strong enough.”
I asked Ramona how it will affect her life when her attacker comes up for parole every two years. She says, “It will be difficult. I just have to trust the system.”