An Italian woman serving as the head of a migrant center in Palermo has testified of how she was raped by a Nigerian migrant who lived at the very center where she worked.
The suspect, Hope Omnolodion, remains on the run from Italian police, according to a report from Italian news outlet Il Giornale.
In a court in Palermo, where Omnolodion is being tried in absentia, the victim testified in front of Judge Lorenzo Matasso and prosecutor Paola Cucchiara.
The woman said that Omnolodion was a resident at the migrant center where she worked, and that the staff there often had problems with the man during the time he lived there. During his stay, he directed inappropriate verbal remarks and physical contact towards the woman.
The woman said that it slowly got worse, with the Nigerian migrant telling her that he wanted her. He would also often come up behind her and touch her in an inappropriate manner.
She also said in another encounter, Omnolodion briefly strangled her as she was getting into her car.
“I think he was angry and disappointed about a negative outcome he received for an international commission [he applied for], which unfortunately he did not receive… He thought I was the reason why,” she said.
She said that Omnolodion choked her hard, causing bruising, but quickly released the pressure after a few seconds.
The judge questioned her why she had not reported the inappropriate encounters earlier. The woman replied that she had reported them internally to other staff members of the organization, but did not go to the police out of fear.
“At first, I was frightened of this situation and out fear I did not understand how I should react, but I immediately reported [the incidents] to my colleagues… I also always informed the managers of the organization by email,” she said.
One day, she accompanied Omnolodion to a doctor’s check-up.
“He was suffering from respiratory problems. We went to the hospital in Partinico, I parked and when we got out, he threatened me with a knife in a secluded area and forced me to have sex,” she said.
She described being “terrified” during the encounter.
The woman reported the incident to a colleague and a doctor who prescribed a variety of tests. She immediately went to a pharmacy and took the morning-after pill.
“Instinctively, I was terrified, I wanted to forget everything,” the victim said in tears.
Eventually, she went to the police about what happened.
During the court hearing, she testified that she is still frightened to go anywhere because Omnolodion is still on the loose.
“I try to never move alone, even more so because he is a fugitive,” she said. “I’m afraid he may appear suddenly.”