Fighting a monster: Jane Doe One steps into the light to share her story of survival

A rape survivor is speaking out after her attacker was set free. It's a case that exposes flaws in how we prosecute sex assaults.

David Ono Image
Thursday, October 12, 2023
Fighting a monster: Jane Doe 1 shares her story of survival
"I'm still sickened and saddened that this rapist is walking free right now." A rape survivor is speaking out after her attacker was set free. It's a case that exposes the flaws in how we prosecute sexual assaults.

LOS ANGELES (KABC) -- "I'm still sickened and saddened that this rapist is walking free right now. Every minute he's not in prison is a minute he can hurt another woman."

Seething anger from a rape survivor after her attacker is set free. It's a case that exposes the flaws in how we prosecute sexual assaults.

Matthew Leonard Werner agreed to a plea deal in a Los Angeles courtroom Wednesday, receiving a 4-year suspended sentence. He has to complete a sex offender course, and he'll be added to the National Sex Offender Registry. But he's free. For the courageous woman who testified against him, she's furious, and says this is not over.

We call this exclusive story, "Jane Doe One ... and only."

She's known as Jane Doe One, but her real name is Shira Scott Astrof. Courage. Sometimes it's so subtle, it's easy to overlook how important it is.

The name Jane Doe One has been in L.A. court documents dating back to an incident on March 4, 2015.

"That night, eight years ago, I was assaulted and victimized in a way that I still can't really describe," Astrof said.

She no longer wants to be the anonymous nor be seen as a victim. She's a fighter. So fierce, she even surprises herself.

All from that moment she was raped.

"He dislocated my shoulder. I had choke marks. I still have problems with my neck. I still remember the pain and the shock of it," she said.

That was just the beginning of the attack.

It all started when Astrof met a man on a dating app who said he was a professional soccer player. But that's not who showed up.

"It was instead this monster, and when I turned my back, he attacked me from behind," she recalled.

"When I realized, in the hospital, looking at his mugshot, that this was just a stranger pretending to be this international soccer player, it added a whole new level of assault, " she said.

Those mugshots were those of Matthew Werner. Detectives say he was already under investigation for multiple sexual assaults against other women, and that's where this story becomes even more important.

Because even though prosecutors say there were other accusers, Astrof is the only one willing to testify against him.

But why?

To better understand the terrifying dilemma of being a sexual assault survivor, I sat down with another rape survivor - a woman who says she was attacked by a different suspect. He remains a free man.

"It's just ... it's just so difficult. I'm so sorry," she said.

The anxiety is still overwhelming from when she says she was drugged and attacked.

"My next memory is the next day waking up. Shirt on, shorts off and not knowing where I was, and I essentially found my shorts on the other side of the bedroom ... and ran out of the house screaming," the survivor said, then choosing not to testify because of what she said detectives told her.

"They warned me unless he's done it before, unless somebody else comes forward, unless you have a witness, it is a 'he said, she said.'"

Legal expert Josh Ritter, a former attorney for L.A. District Attorney's office, said they're probably the most difficult cases to prosecute in the office and that has to do with bringing victims into court.

He describes the horrible plight of being assaulted and then having to testify.

"You're asking someone to come into court to talk about the most traumatizing, perhaps the most embarrassing, experience," said Ritter. "To testify in front of strangers and going to be subjected to rigorous cross examination on that as well, realizing they're going to have to relive that, under those circumstances, is just too much for them to bear."

But in cases where there are multiple victims, if they do testify, it's a much stronger case, and it could bring the penalty to a whole new level.

"That's where you get to these figures like 45 years to life or more, which is a very huge difference from a case like we're talking about today," said Ritter.

And that's what brings us back to Werner. Prosecutors say if his other accusers are willing to testify, Werner could be tried as a serial rapist.

Earlier this year, appeals went out to the public. A Jane Doe Two did emerge, willing to testify.

Prosecutors say a case with five counts was built against Werner, but it fell apart when Jane Doe Two suddenly backed out.

"I know that a lot of them are terrified," said Astrof.

On Wednesday, Astrof was the only one fighting in court, not willing to wait any longer.

She's also been in the news before, rescuing and fighting for animal rights. It's not a coincidence she started doing this after her attack.

"I just needed to stick up for, I guess, the underdog and yeah, I've been fighting for the voiceless, which essentially a lot of women are ... they don't get their voice," she said.

After eight harrowing years, in front of the cameras, the judge, and especially Werner, her voice is heard as she delivered a victim impact statement.

"You are a deceitful, disgusting, pathetic conman. You're a predator, and you are a coward," Astrof said.

Afterwards, she made one last appeal to Werner's other accusers.

"He pled guilty," she said. "You will be believed. Now, you can come forward and we can put him away, and I will be right beside you, every step of the way. I promise."

If Werner's other accusers do choose to come forward, he could face a new trial.

If multiple accusers come forward, he could face a serial rape charge and a potential sentence of life in prison.