This story contains descriptions of sexual violence.
Maryville, Tennessee (CNN)Kaitlin Hurley shook her head in quiet disbelief as the defense attorney made one last attempt to save her rapist from a lengthy sentence.
“Bull—-” she mouthed silently as the lawyer questioned the extent of her injuries, despite a doctor’s finding that she had suffered severe physical trauma from the encounter on May 23, 2015.
A jury in Antigua had convicted former British police officer Lee Martin-Cramp in May of raping Hurley while he was visiting the Caribbean island and she was living there as a nursing student. Now, six weeks later, Kaitlin and her parents were huddled over a laptop in the living room of their Tennessee home, Skyping into an Antiguan courtroom to find out how much time he would serve for shattering their lives.
CNN does not normally name survivors of sexual assault. But Kaitlin and her family chose to publicly identify themselves for the first time in an interview with CNN. By doing so, they hope to normalize conversations about the lasting impact of sexual assault on survivors and their families.
The Hurley family said they felt fortunate to have achieved this level of justice.
Four years earlier, Kaitlin’s mother, Jill Hurley, says Antiguan police told her the case would go nowhere. Since then, the family had learned how challenging sexual assault prosecutions can be. But the Hurleys pressed Antiguan and British authorities until Martin-Cramp became the first British citizen to be extradited to the island, culminating in a historic conviction.
After spending thousands of dollars to visit the island for Cramp’s trial, the Hurley family decided to watch the sentencing from their home, thousands of miles away.
Kaitlin said she felt a life sentence was justified given the circumstances. The jury had agreed with the Crown’s argument that Martin-Cramp used his position as an officer of the law to gain her trust, then drugged and raped her even though she had told him she did not want to have sex.
During the sentencing, Justice Iain Morley noted that five jurors had taking the “unusual” step of returning to the court for the hearing, describing it as a “tribute” to Hurley.
Yet, Hurley had the feeling that no matter how much time he served, it wouldn’t be enough to make her whole again, she said. The attack not only derailed her dreams of being a missionary nurse, it had eroded her faith and her trust in humanity, she said.
“I’m serving a life sentence in recovery,” she said. “Nothing can make me the person I once was.”
A Tinder match turns violent
Hurley’s dream of becoming a missionary nurse led her to Antigua.
In her senior year of high school, she went on a mission trip to Costa Rica, followed by another one over the summer. She was already planning to be a nurse — a natural fit for her caring nature, her father says. The mission trips oriented her toward helping others in developing countries.
When her mother found out about a nursing program in Antigua, Kaitlyn said it sounded like the perfect way for her to earn her degree while learning skills that would serve her outside of the US.
After studying for more than two years at Belmont University, she transferred to the Macedonia School of Nursing at the University of Health Sciences Antigua in May 2014.
Nearly a year later, she said she connected with Martin-Cramp on Tinder. A police constable with London’s Metropolitan Police Service, he was staying at the Pineapple Resort in Antigua for a wedding with friends and family.
The two started chatting on WhatsApp and making plans to meet for drinks — and a potential overnight stay. Amid the flirtatious texts, however, Hurley warned Martin-Cramp not to expect sex. Although she did not tell him, she said she was a virgin, having made the decision to save herself for marriage as part of her Christian faith.
Martin-Cramp promised her that he would respect her wishes and stay on the sofa. He also shared two photos of himself in uniform. One was a selfie, and another showed him playing soccer with children.
Hurley said she found the photos reassuring. “If you can’t trust a police officer, who can you trust?”
The two met on May 23, 2015 and shared a bottle of wine at a dockside boat party before returning to Hurley’s apartment, according to a witness statement she gave on June 2. They opened another bottle of wine and Hurley went to her room to change into sweatpants. When she returned, she said the wine tasted different and Martin-Cramp told her that he had put vodka in it.
She took another sip and stopped drinking, she said, because she didn’t like how it tasted. As they started watching a movie in her living room, she began to feel dizzy, according to her statement.
“From that moment I can hardly recall what [happened] after, because I was feeling so dizzy,” the statement says. “But I can recall at one point Lee was over me while I was lying in my bed, I was screaming at one point telling him no and to stop.”
She was shocked to find herself naked in bed with him the next morning, she said. After she drove him back to his resort, she said she found a bite mark and bruises on her neck. When she sent Martin-Cramp a picture of the bruises, the texts show that he apologized for the bruises and said nothing further about them.
Three days later, as Hurley noticed more bruising on her body and her pain worsened, she said she reached out to Martin-Cramp to find out what really happened that night. She kept it friendly, she says, because she wanted to stay on his good side so he would tell her the truth.
Initially, the texts show that he maintained they did not have sex. After Hurley pressed him, however, Martin-Cramp finally admitted to intercourse, saying she had “jumped on top” of him while he was lying in bed and “started bouncing.”
Hurley responded in disbelief saying she did not remember it like that.
Unsure of what to do, Kaitlin said she texted her mother and asked to speak with her over Skype. Jill Hurley got on her laptop in her bedroom and Kaitlin revealed the news.
Even with the television playing in the living room, her father, Derrick Hurley, said he could hear his daughter’s sobs behind the closed door.
Jill Hurley said she told her daughter to report the incident to police and get examined at a hospital. Kaitlin went to the hospital first and while she was there, she had her first contact with law enforcement. She gave her first official witness statement days later on June 2.
Eventually, a medical examination confirmed what Kaitlin suspected from the injuries, she had been raped.
A quest for justice begins
While Kaitlin’s mother made her way to Antigua, her father said he worked to find out how her rapist could be brought to justice. It would be the start of four years of phone calls and follow up phone calls to officials in Antigua and the UK, he said, pressing for Martin-Cramp to stand trial in Antigua, starting with extradition.
He kept pushing, fearful of what he would do if his daughter’s rapist somehow avoided standing trial, he said.
“I never imagined I could be capable of killing someone,” Derrick Hurley said. “That’s how this has changed me.”
Because Martin-Cramp had left the island, extradition was the only option, said Anthony Armstrong, director of public prosecutions in Antigua. Seeking extradition was “uncharted territory” for the island, but the jury’s verdict validated their efforts, he said.
“We are grateful and humbled that the UK did give due consideration to the extradition request, which went through the legal process,” he told CNN.
Martin-Cramp was arrested in June 2016 in London after an allegation of rape was made, according to Metropolitan Police.
After being released from custody, he was placed on restricted duties while awaiting the outcome of extradition proceedings, Metropolitan Police told CNN. In February 2017, the Westminster Magistrates’ Court rejected the extradition citing request poor humanitarian conditions in Antigua’s national prison, known as 1735 for the year it was built.
After arranging to place Martin-Cramp at a former US naval base that now serves as living quarters for the island’s defense forces, Armstrong says a second extradition request was made. The request was granted in June 2018, and the UK home secretary ordered Martin-Cramp’s extradition in August 2018, according to Metropolitan Police.
By the time Martin-Cramps was transferred to the island in September 2018, Kaitlin Hurley had returned to the United States.
Determined not to let the attack derail her career path, she completed her degree in Antigua. To this day, Hurley speaks fondly of her experience on the island with the exception of the rape, describing it as a “second home.”
But she said she struggled with the effects of trauma for the remainder of her stay.
Trauma begins to manifest
Following the incident, she didn’t sleep or eat and lost 30 pounds in a matter of weeks, she said. She moved out of her apartment because she kept having flashbacks and didn’t feel safe there, she said.
Despite occasional visits from her family, she said she felt alone. Ashamed of what had happened, she barely told anyone, she said.
“It was me against the world and the world was winning. The pursuit of my degree and going home to see my family was all that kept me going, and sometimes not even that was enough,” she said in her victim impact statement, which the judge read aloud during sentencing.
She remained concerned for her safety and moved a second time into a gated community with security guards. Even there, she slept with the lights on, unable to shake the fear of someone lurking in the shadows.
“For many months, I felt numb if not empty. I cried myself to sleep at night every night for an entire year. I typed many suicide letters on my phone then after a few days deleted them, just to write another.”
The attack had made her cautious of her surroundings and distrustful of people, diminishing her desire to explore the world on her own as a missionary nurse.
Instead, she chose to be closer to her family and returned to Tennessee, where she now works as a surgical nurse at a hospital in Lenoir City. It also diminished her faith as she struggled to come to terms with how God could have allowed this to happen to her, she said.
“I gave up my life in the United States to come to Antigua for what I felt in my heart was serving God,” she said in her impact statement.
“When this happened, I felt as though God betrayed me, even after I followed Him and His way of living. I still do not understand why He allowed this trauma to happen to me. And my heart breaks as I continually wonder why bad things happen to good people.”
The trial reaches its conclusion
Martin-Cramp’s defense team maintained throughout the trial that the encounter was consensual.
His lawyer, Warren Cassell, continued to proclaim his client’s innocence at sentencing. He disputed the Crown’s theory that Martin-Cramp used his position as a police officer to gain her trust. He also downplayed the extent of Hurley’s injuries and disputed her claim that she stayed in touch with him after the incident to find out what had happened. He also argued that her consumption of alcohol, and her inviting Martin-Cramp into her home, suggested she had consented to the encounter.
But Judge Iain Morley said the degree of Hurley’s injuries — which lingered days after the incident — and their text messages proved the encounter was not consensual. Besides, Morley told the lawyer, the jury had already rejected his arguments.
“A young woman — or anyone — should be able to invite someone to their house and not then be blamed afterwards if they turn into a demon and start raping them, having drugged them,” Morley said.
Cassell has not yet commented on his client’s behalf.
Kaitlin went to Antigua for the week-long trial in May with her parents, two sisters and another person who had helped her through the process.
Just as Kaitlin says she struggled to find resources for sexual assault survivors in Antigua, her parents said they also had to search far and wide in the United States for help navigating the emotional and legal contours of their experience.
The Hurleys found a resource in End Rape on Campus, an American nonprofit that provides support to survivors of campus sexual violence. Its executive director, Annie Clark, said she kept in touch with the Hurleys even after she left the organization.
The historic nature of the case, from extradition to conviction, made it unique, Clark said. Otherwise, themes of the abuse of power and victim-blaming echoed throughout the trial, Clark said, themes that were familiar to her from her experience as an advocate for survivors of sexual violence.
Justice looks different for everyone, Clark said. For some, closure comes from a guilty verdict while others may prefer not to involve the legal system at all.
Clark said she has no doubt that Kaitlin’s unwavering determination to seeing the trial through were critical to the success of the prosecution.
“To have her family’s support made all the difference,” she said.
Clark also watched the sentencing via video conference, appearing on the Hurley family’s laptop.
Seated next to Kaitlin on the brown leather couch, her father sunk his head into his hands, tears in his eyes, as he listened to the family’s impact statements. It was not the first time he had heard them, but they still stung, he said.
Nearly three hours after the hearing began, the judge handed down the sentence: 15 years, with credit for time Martin-Cramp had already spent in custody.
The family sat in stunned silence. After the Skype connection was cut, Derrick Hurley was the first to speak.
“It’s not quite what I was hoping for, but it’s a lot more than most people get,” he said.
His wife, Jill, echoed the sentiment.
“I’m so grateful that we made it this far. We know now — although we didn’t know if before — how hard it is to get to this point. Most people don’t even get to trial. But 15 years seems so little compared to what we’ve gone through, and it keeps going for Kaitlin.”
Finally, Kaitlin spoke. “I’m bummed. It should’ve been more,” she said bluntly.
“Fifteen years is a lot but I’m dealing with this stuff for the rest of my life.”
With the legal chapter over, Kaitlin’s parents hope to channel their experience into helping other families.
“As difficult as this has been, we’re grateful to have made it to the other side,” Jill said. “But we still have a lot of healing to do.”
Kaitlin’s not sure what’s next for her. She knows she’ll never be the person she was. But she has a new life now. And she’s learning to navigate that.