'I forgive you': 40 years after rape, victim makes peace with attacker as he pleads guilty

·4 min read
Patrick Zamora pleaded guilty this week to raping two women in 1981 on the Foothills Medical Centre campus. One of the victims was returning home to the nursing student residences, which were at the time in this building.  (Google Maps - image credit)
Patrick Zamora pleaded guilty this week to raping two women in 1981 on the Foothills Medical Centre campus. One of the victims was returning home to the nursing student residences, which were at the time in this building. (Google Maps - image credit)

Forty years after two young women were dragged into bushes from a Calgary hospital parking lot and violently raped, their remorseful attacker has pleaded guilty.

Patrick Zamora, now 65, pleaded guilty Monday to two charges of rape — as it was listed in the Criminal Code at the time — and one count of choking.

Zamora has expressed remorse since the day he was questioned by two cold case sex crimes detectives, Michelle Moffatt and Patricia Allen, according to an agreed statement of facts filed in court.

In the summer of 1981, one of the victims was a nursing student, the other, a lab technician.

A publication ban protects the victims from being identified.

'Thank you for pleading guilty'

The women wrote victim impact statements and expressed gratitude Zamora had pleaded guilty, saving them from having to testify.

"Mr. Zamora, I have received the apology you have made via the detective in this case and I forgive you. I also thank you for pleading guilty and avoiding the turmoil of a trial."

But they also wrote about the trauma that has stayed with them through the decades.

"I thought it was my fault for being out so late," wrote the nursing student.

Provincial court Judge Anne Brown accepted a joint position for a five-year, three-month sentence proposed by prosecutor Pam McCluskey and defence lawyer Susan Karpa.

Police use genealogist to help find rapist

Charges were laid in February after years of dogged police work by Moffatt and Allen, who reopened the case. They used DNA technology to eliminate previous suspects and engaged a genetic genealogist researcher, ultimately leading them to Zamora as a prime suspect.

After two weeks of surveillance on Zamora, the detectives collected a cigarette butt he had thrown out of the window of a car. DNA from the butt came back a match to the DNA from the 1981 rape kits.

When they arrested and brought Zamora in for questioning, he confessed, telling the officers he wanted to take responsibility.

He said he was sorry and repeatedly expressed sympathy for his victims and remorse, according to the agreed facts.

The rapes

Zamora confirmed aspects of the rapes that only the offender would know.

According to the agreed statement of facts, at around 2 a.m. on June 16, 1981, the nursing student parked her car and was locking it when she heard Zamora run up behind her.

He grabbed her and dragged her into the bushes about 20 metres from her car.

Zamora raped the 21-year-old student and then looked through her purse, pulling out her ID.

"I know where you live. If you go to the police, I'll come back and get you," he said.

He then left in a pickup truck.

The woman made her way to the nurse's residence. A security guard was there and called police. At the time, he described the victim as "distraught."

2nd rape, weeks later

Two weeks later, another young woman was in the parking lot after leaving the hospital around 1:15 a.m.

Zamora ran up behind her and grabbed her keys, forcing his victim into her car while punching her in the face.

She struggled and fell out of the car. He then slammed her head on the pavement before dragging her into a stand of bushes about 30 metres from her vehicle.

There, he choked and raped the woman.

The Good Samaritan

After the rape, a delivery person walked nearby. Zamora had his hand over the victim's mouth.

She bit him and screamed.

Zamora ran away and the delivery person approached.

He saw the victim was naked and she told him she'd been raped. The delivery man tried to chase after Zamora but couldn't catch him.

He came back to help the victim, gathering her clothes and keys.

The Good Samaritan described her as "crying bitterly."

Forty years later, she says the silver lining to the case reigniting her trauma is the hope that she will now "find healing."

"The positive is that because this incident has been resurrected, I have received invaluable support from the detective in this case and the counsellor assigned to me."

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