CLEVELAND — A woman who said Cleveland police officer Matthew Piter sexually assaulted her is sharing her story, hoping it convinces other survivors of sexual assault to report their attacks.
Piter is charged with raping two women he met on dating apps.
Lauren Little said she's still haunted by what happened in May 2017.
"It was very aggressively bad, and I just kept saying, 'No, no, I don't want this, stop,'" said Little.
She said she went out with Piter once before, then agreed to see him again.
But when Piter showed up at her home, Little said she immediately became concerned.
"He came to my house, extremely intoxicated," said Little. "Very, very intoxicated."
She said she tried convincing Piter to leave, but he refused.
Then, Little said the off-duty policeman became violent.
"He had come up behind me, grabbed my tank top, wrapped it around my neck and began to strangle me with it," said Little.
She said the Piter sexually assaulted her then left her bloody and bruised.
"Immediately after I remember going into the shower and just sobbing and being like, 'What in the actual, like what the hell?'" said Little.
For years she said she tried to bury what happened. She said she was too embarrassed and afraid no one would believe her, so she didn't report the attack to police.
Then, earlier this year, Little said she came across a story online of another woman claiming Piter raped her inside his West Park home in 2019.
Immediately, Little, who has since married and moved to Washington, said she was overwhelmed with guilt.
"Had I come forward, had this been dealt with in 2017, her case would have never been around," said Little.
She said she contacted the Cuyahoga County Prosecutor's Office and finally reported what happened to her four years ago.
Piter is now charged with raping her too.
He's pleaded not guilty and is free on bond.
Cleveland Police suspended him without pay pending the outcome of the case.
Little hopes the man she said attacked her will be held responsible.
She also hopes, by breaking her silence, other sexual assault survivors will find strength in her story and report what happened to them.
"Come forward because you never know if you were the first person who was assaulted or you’ll be the last person that’s assaulted," said Little.
She said she plans to travel back to Cleveland and appear in court.
She wants Piter to see her face and to hear the pain in her story in hopes it changes his behavior in the future.
Piter's attorney said the officer denies the allegations against him and looks forward to responding at the appropriate time.