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Christopher McCarthy on Netflix’s Unbelievable: Who is real life rapist Marc O’Leary?

Serial rapist Marc O'Leary
Netflix’s Unbelievable is based on the true story of serial rapist Marc O’Leary, whose name was changed to Christopher McCarthy on the show. Pic credit: Jefferson County D.A.’s Office

Unbelievable, Netflix’s new eight-episode miniseries, focuses on the crimes of rapist Marc O’Leary — with his name changed to Christopher “Chris” McCarthy on the show.

The series premiered on the streaming platform on September 13, 2019, and is based on An Unbelievable Story of Rape, a Pulitzer Prize-winning report in 2015 by T. Christian Miller of ProPublica and Ken Armstrong of The Marshall Project.

It tells the real-life story of 18-year-old Marie Adler (Kaitlyn Dever), who reported to the police that she was raped in her apartment in August 2008.

She told police investigators that a masked man wielding a knife broke into her bedroom, tied her up, blindfolded her, and raped her for hours. But police interrogators did not believe her story, and under pressure, she recanted. She was accused of lying and charged for making a false report of rape.

However, two female detectives, Grace Rasmussen (Toni Collette) and Karen Duvall (Merritt Wever), who later investigated a series of reported rape incidents in the suburbs of Seattle and Denver between 2008 and 2011, found a link between those cases and Marie’s, which was the first of the series of rapes.

And in 2011, they arrested 33-year-old Marc O’Leary, an army veteran, and charged him for the crimes. It turned out that police’s refusal to act on Marie’s report left O’Leary free to attack five other women. Investigators found a photo in O’Leary’s camera showing Marie bound and gagged.

The trauma of being raped and then later called a liar when she reported the rape affected Maria’s life and she became suicidal.

O’Leary was charged with multiple counts of sexual assault, kidnapping and burglary, and according to The Denver Post, he told police that he was a member of a secret cult that believed the world is divided into “alphas” and “bravos.”

O’Leary, who had a girlfriend at the time, said he was an “alpha,” and that meant he could have sex with anyone.

He pleaded guilty to the rape charges and was sentenced to 327.5 years in prison.


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