Survivor speaks out as Marc Leduc sentenced to life for 2012 sex assault
Joe Lofaro, The Ottawa Citizen
Published on: January 24, 2017
Rita DeNobriga awoke four years ago to find Marc Leduc standing in her bedroom with a knife in his hand. In the nightmarish confrontation that followed, she would barely escape with her life.
It’s an experience, she said Monday, that’s left her more determined than ever to become a police officer and bring criminals such as Leduc to justice.
“I want to put people like this away now,” DeNobriga told the Citizen after Leduc was sentenced to life in prison for the violent sex attack.
In her first interview since asking for the publication ban on her name to be lifted, the 24-year-old said she is “stronger” today and feels, by speaking out, she can be a role model for other survivors.
“I feel having someone who’s willing to talk about it, considering Bell Let’s Talk Day is on Wednesday, it’s easier for people to talk about it,” DeNobriga said.
“Everyone has bumps in the road, but you have to get back on the horse because the ride’s not over yet.”
She graduated from Algonquin College’s police foundations in 2013 and is preparing to apply to become a police officer.
She was 19 when Leduc broke into her house and attacked with threats that he would “cut her.”
As Leduc attacked her, she suffered cuts to her hands as she fought him off, and at one point played dead before she freed herself from a chokehold that got tighter and tighter.
Once she escaped his grip, she ran to a neighbour’s home to call for help. Police arrived and followed a trail of blood leading to the assailant’s apartment, where he was hiding in a bedroom.
DNA from blood samples taken from the crime scene matched DNA found at the scenes of the previously unsolved killings of Pamela Kosmack, 39, in 2008, and Leeanne Lawson, 23, in 2011, linking Leduc to the crimes. In June 2016, he was found guilty of first-degree murder in their deaths. The convictions are currently being appealed.
On Monday, Leduc was sentenced to life in prison for aggravated sexual assault. He is already serving two life sentences for the killings of the two other women, whose bodies were found half-naked.
Superior Court Justice Lynn Ratushny also on Monday handed Leduc to a life sentence for one count of overcoming resistance (choking), 15 years for break and entering, and two years for breaching a probation order, all of which will be served concurrently. A life sentence for aggravated sexual assault and choking is fairly rare.
He will not be eligible for parole for at least 10 years.
Ratushny said DeNobriga’s participation in the murder cases was instrumental in securing a conviction in the Lawson and Kosmack killings, and that the “chilling connection” was only made possible by her courage and determination.
“Ms. DeNobriga is a remarkable and fortunate person to have been able to survive this attack,” the judge said.
The only mitigating factor in Leduc’s sentencing hearing was that he pleaded guilty to the four crimes. But in underscoring his lengthy criminal record dating back to 1973 — and other aggravating factors — the judge said Leduc “is an ongoing danger to society, and society needs to be protected by his incarceration.”
As Ratushny told the court of the woman’s dream of becoming a police officer, Det. Theresa Kelm of the Ottawa Police Service wiped tears from her eyes. DeNobriga considers her a friend.
Her gratitude extends to every other officer she met throughout her ordeal, including the officer who was dispatched to her apartment on Nov. 1, 2012.
“He stayed with me until the detectives came and my mom came. He was there for hours and he didn’t leave. It’s been great. He gave me chocolate and stayed with me,” she said.
With the attack and Leduc now in her past, she said is looking forward to her future.
“I’ve waited so long and it’s finally over for me. I was angry for the longest time and now I’m just happy,” she said.