Vincent Elias, a 33 year old man already serving 15 years for raping two teens, was identified as a suspect in the rape of Fancy Figueroa when he followed her home from school on her 16th birthday seven years ago.  For seven years, nobody believed Fancy when she said she was raped by a man who followed her home, broke into her Queens house and held her by the throat as he brutalized her.  Not the police, not the judge, not even her parents.  But through DNA evidence, Fancy has been proven right and Elias, her attacker, has confessed.  

The rape drove a heart-breaking wedge between Fancy, her mother and the rest of her family for years.  What pushed them apart was that nobody believed her when she told them about the rape. Some thought she was out to escape this shadow of distrust when she moved to North Carolina five years ago.  Fancy, now 22 and with three children of her own, spoke to her mom by telephone over the years, but one subject remained taboo.  She also was denied the support of other family members who were never told what happened.  But she was been vindicated a year ago when Elias was identified as the man who assaulted her.  He might have been caught sooner, but she was pressured by cops to take back her story.  She was pregnant at the time and investigators apparently thought she was lying to cover it up.  

On March 26, Elias was scheduled to be sentenced in Queens Supreme Court and Fancy had a present for him - her forgiveness.  I forgive him, and if I didn't, I probably wouldn't be able to speak about it without hurting, she told the Daily News.  Things still linger but I don't look at him with any kind of hatred.  He had my forgiveness for a couple of years, she said.  He just doesn't know it.

Elias broke down in court and apologized.  I would like to say to the victim that I'm deeply sorry for the emotional damage that I have caused her and her family, he said as he was sentenced to 22 years in prison.

(New York)