Rape survivor says changing law will protect others

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by DREW MIKKELSEN / KING 5 News

Bio | Email | Follow: @Drewmikk

KING5.com

Posted on January 31, 2013 at 6:03 PM

Updated Thursday, Jan 31 at 6:57 PM

OLYMPIA, Wash. -- When a man started hitting Dana Widrig with a metal pipe, the last thing she was thinking about was how he got in her apartment.

"He was trying to kill me," said Widrig, "I started fighting him."

She was unable to fight off her attacker early in the morning of December 5, 2009.

"He eventually raped me and left me for dead basically," Widrig told KING 5 News.

DNA evidence eventually identified her attacker as Cody Kloepper, the maintenance man at Widrig's apartment complex in Richland.

Kloepper got a spare key from Widrig's apartment complex's office.

Widrig's attorneys say the landlord kept the keys in a lock box, but the key to the lock box was kept in a coffee mug on top of the box.

Kloepper was able to get the key without anyone knowing.

There is no state law requiring landlords to secure spare keys.

That's why Widrig is going public with her very private story.

"I had to fix this. I couldn't just sit back and know this information and let somebody else go through what I went through," said Widrig.

Her story got the attention of Rep. Gael Tarleton, D-Seattle, who plans on introducing a bill requiring landlords "maintain and safeguard with utmost care" spares or master keys.

"Lock them up, put them in a safe," said Tarleton, "Make sure they are only available on an as-needed, authorized basis," said Tarleton.

She said the bill has bipartisan support, but it may have some opposition from the Washington Landlord Association.
Association President Tim Seth said he is sympathetic about what happened, and is open to requiring more from landlords.

But Seth told KING 5 News he is afraid using a term like "utmost care" rather than "reasonable" in the new law could open up landlords to unfair lawsuits.

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