"Originally, the Bad Date Line started as a phone tree between escorts," explained Morgan Lesey, Volunteer Coordinator for Danzine, a non-profit group that serves as a resource for sex workers. "If a colleague had a bad date--meaning she was harassed or assaulted on her date--she would call another escort and tell her." Escorts would pass descriptions of the offender on to their co-workers, and the co-workers would know to recognize dangerous men. That started in 1998. Now, the Bad Date Line is a separate number operated by Danzine and every month, fliers are distributed profiling the 'bad dates' around town."
For example, on April's flier, John Mark Clarke is profiled. A fugitive, Clarke is wanted in both Seattle and Portland for sexual assault. "Dangerous and has raped a lot of women!!!" reads the flier's description. "White male, blond mullet, mid to late 30s, thick neck, droopy eyes, very strong Sometimes goes by Brian. He drinks in bars on W. Burnside, picks up female workers, rapes them. He asks for a date, then attacks as soon as there is enough privacy. He strangles, leaving bruises on the neck."
The flier also profiles a man nicknamed "Officer Friendly." "Green truck in good condition and a college sticker on it. He says he is a cop, but will not produce a badge. He is raping women," reads the flier. This flier usually profiles 10-15 dangerous offenders, and is distributed to agencies all over downtown who work with women in prostitution and sex-related fields, as well as clinics that assist with drug addiction such as Outside In. The flier is photocopied by whomever desires to distribute it. Lesey feels that the Bad Date Line has provided immeasurable assistance to women in avoiding dangerous men. "We know that women have avoided specific men because of this," says Lesey. "But we try to always be doing more."
Meanwhile, last week, an anonymous group of four artists, calling themselves P4, posted 100 signs around the Portland area. "A rape happened here," announce the signs. Handwritten underneath the printed writing is the approximate date and time the rape occurred.
"We just went through the Portland Police website and figured out where all these rapes had happened around Portland," one of the P4 artists explained in an anonymous interview.
The project was born after a friend of one of the artists was raped. "We started talking about how, as women, we feel hunted," the artist explained. "And it also sparked this discussion about why we have to be so silent about it, why there's so much shame when someone is raped You're only as sick as your secrets."
Though P4 placed 100 signs up, all but a handful were taken down by the next day. Nevertheless, the artists have plans of distributing fliers in the more outlying areas of Portland--the first 100 were all focused on the close-in areas of town--as well as networking with people in other cities in order to take the project elsewhere.
So far, Portland Police have been encouraging in regards to both projects. "It's great anytime people are raising awareness. We try to educate the public, but a lot of times the news doesn't focus on just one rapist," explained Henry Gripper, Information Officer for the Portland Police. "Often times when it comes to rape--unless we have a serial rapist--the news doesn't get out. Plus, we really try to respect the people who have been raped and not publish their names," he added.
The Bad Date Line is 503-813-0996. In order to contact P4, email: