Kate Pattison caught in a mantrap in her former office building, moments before she was assaulted in 2011
Kate Pattison caught in a mantrap in her former office building, moments before she was assaulted in 2011 Credit: Courtesy of Kate Pattison's coworker

U.S. Army Major Bill Rausch has been indicted on one count of felony third-degree sexual abuse for an alleged after-hours attack on a subordinate female employee in a downtown D.C. office building.

Rausch, who is currently deployed in Africa, has been a prominent advocate for veterans, including as the former executive director of Got Your 6, a nonprofit that empowers those who previously served.

Rausch also authored the forward of The Fire Within: Shedding Light on Trauma, a book that compiles stories of trauma associated with military life. He graduated from the United States Military Academy at West Point, according to his bio.

Rausch did not respond to messages seeking comment. An Army spokesman writes in an emailed statement that they are aware of the indictment and “will continue to review the information related to this case as it becomes available.” The spokesman declined to comment further.

For the victim, Kate Pattison, the indictment brings an end to some of the uncertainty and anxiety that’s hovered over her life for the past eight years.

Pattison first went to the police the day after Rausch tried to force himself on her in the empty office of Ray Group International, where they both worked, in 2011. Pattison was 22 at the time, working her first job out of college, and Rausch was a superior.

The female Metropolitan Police Department officer’s first response back then, according to Pattison, was “Why didn’t you report this last night?”

“It took a long time for me to call myself a victim or to associate with the word victim, and going to the police again symbolized that,” she tells City Paper. “Especially after being made to feel like I wasn’t one the first time I went, I didn’t want to fight anybody for that status.”

It wasn’t until 2017 that Pattison, now 30, went back to the police, prompted by a phone call from a man researching a separate missing persons case from 2004 in New Hampshire. It took about a year and a half from the time she reported the incident to police a second time to when Rausch was indicted.

Pattison became aware of Rausch’s connection to the disappearance of 21-year-old Maura Murray through a co-worker soon after the alleged attack in D.C. Rausch was Murray’s boyfriend at the time she went missing.

Murray’s disappearance remains unsolved and has attracted a cult-like following online, where internet sleuths comb over details of the police investigation and peddle unfounded theories. There are Reddit threads, podcasts, and entire blogs dedicated to Murray’s case—one of which is run by author and reporter James Renner.

Renner’s book about his obsession with Murray’s disappearance, True Crime Addict: How I Lost Myself in the Mysterious Disappearance of Maura Murray, published in 2016. He also participated in a documentary series that aired on the Oxygen network in 2017.

Rausch was stationed at Fort Sill, Oklahoma on the night Murray disappeared and has adamantly denied any involvement. He’s said on Twitter that he was granted leave to search for Murray after he found out she’d gone missing. Yet Renner has held onto his own unproven theory that eliminates Rausch’s alibi, which he has written about on his blog.

Renner says multiple women who’ve read the blog and heard him speak about the case on a podcast contacted him to describe Rausch’s erratic and at times violent behavior. City Paper has not independently confirmed those accounts, but upon hearing stories of Rausch’s alleged behavior with other women from Renner, Pattison says she felt a responsibility to report her incident to the police again.

She says this is what happened:

After work on St. Patrick’s Day 2011, Pattison and some of her co-workers at Ray Group left work a little early for happy hour. It was unseasonably warm, Pattison remembers, so they left their jackets in the office.

After a drink or two at a bar near the White House, the group returned to the office to retrieve their coats. On the way out, Pattison got locked between the two sets of doors, and Rausch, who was still in the office but did not accompany the group to the bar, came to let her out.

She says Rausch asked her to follow him into an office and that he needed to talk to her. Once inside, she remembers Rausch closing the doors behind them and laughing. He asked her if she remembered the day she came into the office after having been pushed down the Metro escalator at McPherson Square.

Pattison did remember. A few months prior, someone shoved her down the long Metro escalator on her way to work. Someone broke her fall, and she says she looked up and saw Rausch turning the corner at the top. She confronted Rausch about the incident that morning, but he denied any involvement.

In the office alone, though, Pattison says Rausch admitted that he pushed her.

Then, she says, he grabbed her shoulders, turned her around, and forced her head down into the conference table.

Pattison pushed him away, but Rausch pushed her down to the table again, she says.

“I just wasn’t contemplating what was happening,” she says. “I pushed him up, and he pushed me down again, and I kept asking him what he was doing, and he would smile or laugh, and kept grabbing at my dress.”

By that time, another coworker had walked into the office and was searching for Pattison, calling out her name. Pattison let out a noise, and Rausch ducked behind a desk.

“This never fucking happened,” she remembers him saying.

Three people who Pattison told about the attack soon afterward have confirmed her account to City Paper.

Two of those people, who were Pattison’s coworkers at the time, describe Rausch’s demeanor toward women in the office—and especially toward Pattison—as degrading and condescending. Pattison says Rausch once told her it was unprofessional for women to wear pants in the office, and “that I should wear skirts or dresses.”

Ariana Gordillo, who lived with Pattison, says Pattison was in a state of shock when she arrived home that evening and described the attack.

“I remember her looking very distraught and very pale,” Gordillo says.

The indictment in D.C. has no connection to Murray’s disappearance. Although Murray disappeared 15 years ago, law enforcement officials in New Hampshire are still investigating. Earlier this month, New Hampshire state troopers and FBI agents searched a home near the spot Murray was last seen but found “no evidence of human remains,” the Boston Globe reported. New Hampshire State Police declined to comment on potential suspects.

Rausch’s arraignment in D.C. Superior Court was originally scheduled for this morning but was postponed until April 17.