It Happened to Alexa Foundation, founded by Tom and Stacey Branchini, honors the courage of their daughter Alexa, who survived a traumatic rape by a stranger who broke into her college dormitory the second week of her freshman year. The armed rapist hid in the shower and viciously attacked Alexa when she entered the bathroom for a drink of water.
Although the perpetrator was caught that same night, Alexa’s nightmare was hardly over. She endured 18 long months of court delays-—tactics by the defense—and an invasive investigation into her character and reputation. But she persisted.
The trial lasted three weeks. Alexa was questioned by the defense attorney for hours, with accusations of consensual sex. The consent defense has become common in rape trials since DNA can definitively tie the perpetrator to the scene of the crime.
Because Alexa persevered, her attacker will not have the chance to traumatize other young women for a long, long time. The jury sentenced him to 40-45 years without possible parole. He will be a very old man if and when he is released.
Alexa was able to rely on her family’s support throughout her ordeal. The Branchinis had the financial means to travel with Alexa from their home to Boston for the entire trial. But many families do not have the ability to take time off from work or travel long distances or pay for hotels and meals. The Foundation was created so that financial limitations would not prevent other families from supporting a loved one when they need it the most.