A decade-old rape case involving a Lynnwood woman — who was later charged with falsely reporting the crime — will be the basis for the Netflix true crime series, Unbelievable. The original series was inspired by the 2016 Pulitzer Prize-winning ProPublica article “An Unbelievable Story of Rape.”
According to the ProPublica story, on Aug. 11, 2008, an 18-year-old woman — who was identified in court documents as D.M. — awoke in her Lynnwood apartment to find a man holding a kitchen knife. He bound her with shoelaces from her tennis shoes, gagged her with underwear and raped her. Before leaving her apartment, he took photos of her and threatened to post them online if she told anyone. After the man left, D.M. was able to free herself and reported the rape to Lynnwood police.
However, D.M. soon found herself the subject of public scrutiny when the two detectives assigned to the case accused her of making up the allegations. She later retracted her statement, saying she may have dreamed the rape. D.M. said she was coerced into retracting her story by police and was charged with false reporting and took a plea deal. After later insisting the crime had occurred, she was fined $500.
In 2011, D.M.’s rapist — Marc O’Leary, a former Washington state man — was caught in Colorado by two female detectives after he raped three women there. O’Leary later admitted to the Lynnwood crime and is serving a 327-year prison sentence. He also admitted to raping a 63-year-old Kirkland woman.
In 2014, D.M. was awarded $150,000 in a lawsuit settlement with the City of Lynnwood.
Netflix’s Unbelievable recounts a fictionalized version of the events of the 2008 crime with Kaitlyn Denver (Booksmart) as “Marie,” based on D.M. Also starring in the show will be Toni Collette (Heredity) and Merritt Wever (Nurse Jackie) as characters that are based on the two Colorado detectives. The names and personal lives of the characters have been altered for the series, but the investigative work and crime will be similar to the real events.
“Even with people you can trust, if the truth is inconvenient, they don’t believe it,” Denver’s “Marie” says over the show’s trailer.
Unbelievable will be an eight-episode limited-series available for streaming Sept. 13 on Netflix. There is no word at this point on whether the show will be set in Lynnwood.
— By Cody Sexton