Marshalltown Women Held Hostage, Raped and Threatened as Teens Now Plead for Change in State Law

DES MOINES, Iowa — Audrey Hartzler and Leigh Bauder of Marshalltown have shared an unwanted bond for the past 40 years in private and are now going public with the devastating impact that forever changed their lives.

In March of 1979, a man held them hostage for hours and raped them before they were eventually freed. Tuesday, they stood together outside the Iowa Statehouse and shared the pain they have carried, which they say became even worse because of state law.

"Perpetrators have rights. We have no rights," Bauder said, "When you're a survivor, that's very frustrating to hear that."

Bauder and Hartzler say they had no idea that their attacker was about to leave prison last year and feel that they, and all other victims, deserve that notification. "We need to be informed and we know nothing," Hartzler said.

The women agreed to publicly share their story in a push for lawmakers to get behind Marsy's Law next year. It is a national effort named after a California woman who got stalked and killed by her ex-boyfriend. 

It would require the court system to notify victims about any changes in offender's status in the court system.

Marsy's Law would require voters to approve a constitutional amendment to guarantee the changes. But for that vote to happen, lawmakers have to first approve it in two consecutive legislative sessions. Legislators have declined to do that. Critics in Iowa have said Marsy's Law could place undue financial burden on the court system. Supporters vow to try again next year to get legislators to take action.

Thirty-six states have already constitutionally guaranteed protections for victims.

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