34-Year Wait: Identity Of Woman At Centre Of One Of Tasmania's Most Brutal Sex Crimes Revealed
More than three decades ago, a then-teenage woman was brutally raped and her fiance tortured and murdered, yet only today can her identity be revealed.
When Tameka Ridgeway was 17, she was repeatedly raped by Jamie John Curtis and an accomplice, abducted from her home, and locked in the boot of a car, while her 22-year-old fiance, Dean Allan Allie, was stabbed to death after being beaten and tortured.
In her police report, Ridgeway said she was raped 13 times in her harrowing ordeal.
A judge described Curtis's crimes as "unprovoked, brutal, prolonged, indiscriminate and callous".
Since then, Ridgeway has not been allowed to talk publicly about her case due to Tasmanian laws designed to prevent media exploitation of sexual assault victims.
“The killer already knows my name. This law doesn’t protect me one bit,” she told news.com.au last year, using the name Alicia.
“It just works to silence me. But this is my story to tell, and I should be the one to tell it,” she said.
After taking her case to be named to the Supreme Court, Ridgeway has become the second woman in Tasmania to self-identify as a sexual assault survivor in media.
Network 10 has sought and gained consent to name Ridgeway under the terms of her court order.
“I took my case to the Supreme Court and I won,” she told news.com.au.
Ridgeway said she also felt compelled to speak out, to ensure her attacker remains behind bars.
“Last time he got out, my life stopped. His freedom ended my freedom. He shows no remorse and no respect for the law” she said.
“I’m speaking out on the anniversary of Dean’s murder and the rapes, to warn the public of the risk Curtis still poses to the community."
Curtis was sentenced to life in prison, but due to a law change allowing prisoners to appeal life sentences, he was re-sentenced to a minimum of 30 years and released in 2018 before he was imprisoned again for other offences.
“They raped me in the most degrading way, verbally taunting me and saying and doing the most sadistic things,” Ridgeway said.
“Curtis was pure evil. He should never be released. I believe he will kill again and again. He should labelled a dangerous criminal.”
Working with journalist Nina Funnell, who spearheaded the #LetHerSpeak campaign, Ridgeway wants laws amended which forbid sexual assault survivors from telling their story.
"There's a greater issue at stake here, and that is victims being stripped of agency and self-determination and this amplified their powerlessness," Funnell told 10 daily.
Funnell was herself sexually assaulted when she was 23, and she went public five weeks later. She wants to ensure all other victims are afforded that option.
She has been working on Ridgeway's case for one year.
"For a piece of legislation to dictate the survivor should not be able to identify themselves as having been assaulted, once again steals that person’s freedom," Funnell said.
The #LetHerSpeak campaign is a collaboration between End Rape on Campus Australia and Marque Lawyers with the aim of ensuring the government amends section 194K of Tasmania’s Evidence Act 2001 to give victims of sexual assault the right to speak out publicly.
In March, the Tasmanian government will table a bill in parliament to amend the law.
The Northern Territory has a similar law in place. Recently, the Northern Territory called for submissions regarding their similar law.
Funnell says it's imperative that N.T. amend the legislation, given the jurisdiction has Australia the highest rate of sexual assault per capita.
Until they do, like Ridgeway, victims will need to launch and fund their own court challenges.
A GoFundMe to help cover the legal fees of survivors wishing to tell their stories has raised $22,000.
EXCLUSIVE: Tameka Ridgeway will appear on Studio 10 on Monday, in her first television appearance.
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