It’s a case that shocked people across Connecticut and around the country: a mother in Waterbury attacked in her own home and then police accused her of making it up.
Now all these twists and turns – and a big update – are the focus of a new Dateline.
“I don't know that it gets easier,” said Donna Palomba.
Still, Palomba tells NBC Connecticut it's important to talk about the nightmare she’s lived through.
“I do feel like, every time I share my story, I'm taking some of the control back that the perpetrator tried to steal from me,” said Palomba.
Her story is featured on an upcoming Dateline. It airs Friday at 9 p.m. on NBC Connecticut.
In 1993, a masked man entered her Waterbury home, bound and sexually assaulted her. Her children were just down the hall.
At first, some officers accused Palomba of lying.
But Waterbury Mayor Neil O’Leary – then a detective - believed her and eventually 11 years later, a DNA hit confirmed it was a family friend named John Regan.
After serving time for Palomba’s attack and other crimes, Palomba said Regan is still being held under New York’s civil management law.
“There is a review process in the years that we'll follow, where he can petition to see if he's ready to be out. But in the meantime, we're all safe,” said Palomba.
This experience led her to found an organization called Jane Doe No More.
It helps other survivors who Palomba wants to know aren’t alone.
“We want to let other people know that there is a path forward after these types of crimes,” said Palomba.
She said during the pandemic, she’s been worried about survivors being isolated with their abusers and points out there are online resources for people.