BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) — Ramona Bantle refuses to be a victim. She is a survivor, and she’s using her nearly unimaginable ordeal to help others.
Ramona was kidnapped and raped in Sardinia in 1992. She found the strength to testify against her attacker in 1993.
“He was enraged. Angry, violent, evil man. I feared for my life,” said said of David Graczyk.
The convicted rapist is currently serving a 25 to 50 year sentence, but he finished the minimum 25, and now becomes eligible for parole every two years. That means every two years, Bantle has to relive what happened to her and write to the parole board to keep Graczyk behind bars.
That is what she is trying to change, both for herself and for other survivors.
“That’s what really helped me in Albany and being around all these legislators and assemblymen and senators and people who are way not in my sphere of influence. I just spoke from my heart. Really passionate. You know, needed to make some changes.”
Ramona has been working with local lawmakers on Ramona’s law, which would extend parole eligibility for convicts of violent felonies from every two years to every five years.
In her nomination essay, her sister wrote, “Ramona has chosen to be the voice for those that cannot speak.”
“It’s not something I have to be ashamed of. And it’s because the stigma that goes with it; the guilt and the shame. Well, I have no guilt and I have no shame. I’ve risen above that.”
“You know, I have a passion for this to happen. I have an urgency because he is going to be paroled in 2021 or 2023. Very soon. Maybe not, but pretty likely, but the courage and passion to speak out.”