Our clients, in their own words: Kaitlyn’s story
Many of us here at C.A. Goldberg, PLLC are survivors (some of us are former clients too!). We’ve walked through the fire and come out the other side stronger, and we want you to know that it’s possible for you too.
Hearing from our former clients can help a person going through something terrible realize that they can get through it, too. Even if you have not experienced a sexual privacy violation, these testimonials are a profoundly valuable opportunity to learn from someone with first-hand experience. We are in awe of Kaitlyn’s strength as she dealt with the ups and downs of the criminal justice system.
By sharing our stories, we reduce stigma, raise awareness, and help shift our own internal narrative From Victim to Warrior.
Please take care as you read Kaitlyn’s story and click here for support resources if you are struggling or in crisis.
In July 2019, I called C.A. Goldberg, PLLC after finding that my ex-boyfriend had posted our sex tape on PornHub.
Finding that video would change the course of my life. After I signed on as a client, my first phone call was with Annie Seifullah, who would be my attorney. Like any modern human being, I googled her name, and instantly recognized it. I had followed Annie’s story back when she was going through her public case, and I remember being in bed in my Brooklyn apartment when I read that she had settled with the Department Of Education.
At the time of our first phone call, I remember thinking “I have no idea how this works.” I don’t think I even let Annie get a word in. I told her everything I knew about my ex, and mentioned that I knew there was another tape out there of me laying unconscious while he “had sex with my limp body” (which is how I believe I phrased it). “But of course, he wouldn’t put that one on the internet,” I assured her.
I remember telling Annie I already had witnesses who would be willing to come forward to testify how abusive he was toward me, and Annie politely explained “we aren’t quite there yet”. She asked what I wanted, and I vividly remember saying, “I would be happy to see him go to jail, and I would be happy to empty his wallet.” Annie told me getting settlements in these cases can be difficult, and that if I wanted to take a criminal route, I could either go to the police, or we could try to work with a DA.
She was very transparent about the jurisdiction in which we could file: Manhattan, New Jersey, or Brooklyn. She helped me decide that filing in Kings County would be wisest and set me up to meet with an Assistant District Attorney at the Domestic Violence Bureau of Kings County.
I remember feeling like I was about to be interrogated. This was all incredibly foreign to me. I was so scared. I called Annie on my way there and she told me, “They are not your lawyer, do not say anything that you do not need to say.” This piece of advice carried me through it.
It was after that initial meeting that I found a video of myself online, being raped by him while unconscious. I hadn’t realized until that point that it was, in fact, rape. And I also hadn’t realized that my ex-boyfriend was not only vengeful enough to rape me, but to film it and post it on the internet.
This changed the course of things with the District Attorney. The charges were now much more serious. I was asked if I wanted to testify in front of Grand Jury, and said I would. Though Annie could not necessarily get involved in the criminal case, she provided guidance that I not only was grateful for, but sorely needed.
One day the ADA was pestering me to confirm a date as to when the unconscious video might have been filmed. I had dated this person over the span of a year, so it was anyone’s guess as to when it was filmed. I spent five hours one Monday morning digging through old text messages of my ex-boyfriend, trying to get any indication as to when this video might have happened. Finally, it clicked that my sheets were purple in the video, and that my other set of sheets are pink. I remembered that I had purchased those purple sheets at Target, and called Target desperately trying to get a date of purchase. I felt like I was going insane. That was when I stepped outside and called Annie. I was standing in the street, two heartbeats away from admitting myself into a mental institution, and Annie said: “If you don’t know, you don’t know. Don’t say anything you’re not sure of. You are under no obligation to answer. They are only asking you questions to make their jobs easier, but it’s not your obligation to fulfill. If they absolutely need a date, make sure you always say, ‘to the best of my knowledge’ or some sort of disclaimer after.” I felt a massive sigh of relief. I was able to narrow it down to a four-month period and never forgot to say, “To the best of my knowledge.”
I testified on November 6th, 2019, and there was “more than enough evidence” to move forward with an arrest. Nothing feels as great as hearing that your rapist is going to get arrested, but that feeling quickly was replaced with fear, anxiety, and paranoia when I was told the ADA assigned to my case would be leaving, and my case would be transferred. The new ADA assigned did practically nothing with it and not long after, she was leaving too. My case was transferred again to a third ADA. It was now late January and my rapist had still not been arrested.
“I don’t want this to become a ‘witch hunt’.”
I called Annie often during these times, sometimes just to cry with frustration over the lack of care the legal system had shown me. She constantly empathized and was a consistent person in my life who humanized me. Being humanized in these situations is crucial. I felt foreign to myself, like a shell of the happy-go-lucky person I once was. I was now this person who kept a stash of spoons in the freezer to de-puff under my eyes from crying all day.
At one point I decided I would not talk anymore because my transcript was sitting there collecting dust while my rapist walked free. Many other times I thought about changing my name and moving to Italy. But Annie reminded me the fight was far from over and “revenge is best served cold.” She let me complain, then gently reminded me to practice patience and not give up my fight.
I finally received a much-awaited phone call from an NYPD officer on February 7th, 2020. He questioned a few things about the case; about my ex’s physical appearance, if I knew where he worked or where he hung out. I explained that I didn’t know where he hangs out but I could try to find out, to which he quickly replied, “No, no. I don’t want this to become a witch hunt.”
Hearing the Officer use that phrase – a phrase that is often used to empathize with public rapists such as Harvey Weinstein, Bill Cosby… and even more notably, a phrase that was used to literally kill women – that did not sit well with me.
But I figured, whatever, even if the officer is a misogynistic jerk, at least my ex is FINALLY getting arrested. I hung up the phone and sent the Officer photos of my ex, per his request.
The Officer called me right back and said: “I just have one question: why did you go to the DA and go over our heads?” I responded “Sir, with all due respect, I did not have an instruction manual on how to deal with this situation.” “Ok fine,” the Officer said. “But I’m just saying. These are really serious charges. Are you sure you want to go through with this?”
That Officer asking me if I really wanted to go through with this after all I had been through is still the most insulting thing someone has ever said to me in my life.
I wanted to scream, “Do your f**king job, bro, and arrest my rapist,” but I was so stunned and perplexed, I simply said, “Yes, I’m sure.”
I hung up the phone and felt a panic attack coming on. I started frantically texting Annie. I was upstate during this time, in my parents’ bedroom, and I saw Annie’s face pop up on my phone as an incoming call (she has a great iPhone photo that truly would lighten anyone’s day when she’s calling). I was talking 100 miles a minute telling her what an a-hole the officer was and she got pissed along with me, saying it was ridiculous for him to speak to me that way. She reiterated that it’s none of his business as to “why you’re doing this,” he has a warrant to make the arrest, so he’s got to make the arrest. I remember when I called Annie, my hands were shaking, I was sweating, I was crying, panicked, pissed, confused. When we hung up the phone, I felt a calmness wave over me: my breath steady once again thanks to her.
But a week went by and my rapist was still not arrested. I woke up on Valentine’s Day after sleeping at a friend’s house since my depression had gotten so bad that I could no longer be alone. I texted Annie from my friend’s bed, “Why has he not been arrested yet?” Annie, in so many words, said, “I’m on it.” I gave her the officer’s phone number and she very quickly sent me a screenshot back –he had responded right away that they would try to apprehend him that day.
Annie told me, “No officers like hearing from Carrie Goldberg’s attorneys because they know we mean business.”
My rapist was arrested only a few hours after Annie sent the message. Though Annie had always been a guide to me, this was the moment I realized how powerful having a badass attorney is.
I do not believe my rapist would have gotten arrested that day, or even a day shortly thereafter, had Annie not gotten involved. The officer clearly did not take me seriously, and clearly empathized with my rapist based on the way he had spoken to me on the phone and his desire to avoid a “witch hunt”. I was not holding my breath for this officer to suddenly become the hero of the story.
My rapist was arrested only a few hours after Annie sent the message. She had always been a guide to me, but this was the moment I realized how powerful having a badass attorney is.
My case quickly got thrown for yet a few more loops thanks to the pandemic. By October of 2020, when my rapist had still not even seen a day in criminal court, I called Annie and told her I wanted to move forward with a civil suit. She recommended against it, and asked if I could try to hold out for a little, because if they see I’m pursuing civil action while the criminal case is still open, they could paint me as a “vengeful ex-girlfriend”.
I tried to hear her out, but I told her “if it gets delayed even one more time, I do not care what I look like, he needs to be held accountable somehow for what he’s done.”
I told Annie on that same phone call that I had just been diagnosed with severe depression, severe anxiety, and PTSD. I explained that while he’s out living his life, doing whatever mundane activity he’s free to do, I’m popping Lexapro just to stay afloat. We ended up talking for a while, she recommended I watch some good documentaries and made me laugh ridiculously hard (and I really needed a laugh that day).
At one point my parents wanted to call my ex’s place of employment to let them know a rapist was working there. I knew this was not a good idea. They said, “Ask your attorney.” I was extremely embarrassed to make this phone call but when I did Annie told me to never be embarrassed, that she’s literally here for these types of questions. She confirmed it was indeed not a wise thing to do since the charges were not convictions, and he could go after my parents for character defamation if they chose to do this.
One night in November, after the ADA had been, in my humble opinion, completely neglecting my case, Annie received an email that my case had been transferred yet again, to a fourth ADA. Fourth time’s a charm is the saying, right? Annie called me and we were giggling over the fact that my ADA had been changed at 8PM the night before a court case. It was absurd. Trust me: in that situation you have to laugh, or you’ll cry.
While he’s out living his life, doing whatever mundane activity he’s free to do, I’m popping Lexapro just to stay afloat.
It turns out, transferring my case to a fourth DA finally spelled success. My rapist finally saw his first day in court. The ADA set up a call with both Annie and I (this was the first time an ADA had made an effort to get us both on the phone at the same time) and it felt like things were finally moving! After that phone call, Annie immediately phoned me so we could debrief. She always put in that extra care and effort to make sure that I was okay, and that we were all on the same page.
I began to talk to her about the prospect of me going to law school, as I had just signed up for the LSAT. She offered some guidance on the application process and encouraged me to apply to CUNY School of Law due to its public interest lens and affordable tuition.
I took the LSAT in January 2021, and the day after, had a complete and full-on meltdown. I called Annie and told her I was having trouble keeping it together. Most of that phone call is a blur, but she was there on the other end to listen and, once again, softly talk me off the ledge.
I was on a road trip with my dog when I was told the ADA had finally offered my ex a plea deal. Annie and I jumped on a zoom call with them, and we were told my ex had been offered a deal of all charges being dropped except for the rape in the first-degree charge (the most serious) which meant five years in prison, sex-offender registry for life, and an Order of Protection for me.
I will never forget Annie’s face in this moment. I could see she was ecstatic. We had prepared ourselves for the worst, and in the criminal court world of rapists being held accountable, this was certainly not the worst.
My bubble burst almost immediately when the ADA mentioned that my rapist ex and his attorney had mentioned hiring a private investigator. “Why?” I thought. “What else do they need to know? I’d be happy to tell them anything to get this over with.” Annie let me know this was him just grasping at straws because “his ass was to the wall with these charges,” and his attorney would be happy to charge him for the extra hours. This was one of the many times during this process that she cut through the awful moments with humor. At the same time, she reassured me that I was going to get some type of justice in the criminal system based on the plea deal.
I had returned from my road trip and I was with my niece upstate NY when Annie texted me to see if I could chat. It was around 9:30am and anytime Annie wanted to know if I was available, I naturally assumed the worst. I figured the Private Investigator had dug something up on me. “What did they find?” I wondered. I ran upstairs to get away from my niece so I could talk to Annie.
“Hi, I have some pretty heavy news,” Annie said.
“Ok…” I anxiously waited a reply.
“He took his own life.”
I had imagined my case to end in many ways: with all charges being dropped, with me somehow getting in trouble, with him trying to kill me, with him going to prison, and more. But never did I once imagine he would end his life. This was obviously a shock, all I could say was, “So, that’s the end of that?” to which Annie replied, “That’s the end of that.” At the time, I felt robbed of so many things.
A few days later, I received a package in the mail. It was a brand-new pink KitchenAid Stand mixer, along with a C. A. Goldberg “I Sue Rapists” hat and “Victim to Warrior” bracelet. The KitchenAid Stand Mixer was one of the most thoughtful gifts I could have received. My ex had taken my kitchen aid, which I had told Annie about several times, and we always joked we would include it in a letter threatening to sue him civilly (Example: You are being asked to pay 25k in emotional damages, and $411.59 for one KitchenAid Stand Mixer.) Since I never got my day in court or my mixer back, C. A. Goldberg took the initiative to get at least one of those things for me.
I now attend CUNY School of Law and last semester around Halloween one of our professors was holding a potluck. I finally used the KitchenAid Stand mixer, which admittedly, was too painful for a while. It felt full circle to be using my pink KitchenAid from my attorney for my NCP/rape case, for making a batch of fresh cookies for my new friends at law school.
Life has certainly turned itself around with thanks to therapy, Lexapro, a pile of frozen spoons in the freezer and – most notably – to Annie. I do not believe I would have survived without her guidance. I do not believe my rapist would have ever gotten arrested had she not gotten involved. I do not believe I could have ended up in better hands while in the heaviest turmoil I’ve had to burden.
I wrote about Annie in my personal statement for my law school applications and constantly referred to her as the light at the end of the tunnel, ending my statement by saying that someday I hope to be the light at the end of someone’s tunnel in their darkest hour, the way Annie has been for me.
Oh- and I’ve been working on a book based on my story, and I would like to thank the Officer for the inspiration. The title will be: “Are You Sure You Want to Go Through With This?”