Going public: Andrews talks, and the governor listens

For nearly 30 years, Martin Andrews kept silent about a hideous crime that happened to him in Tidewater. But last year he learned that the man who repeatedly raped him and kept him imprisoned in an underground box is scheduled to be released from prison in April.

The 43-year-old Andrews swung into action. Now a computer technician living North Miami, Florida, Andrews collected his vacation time and began making frequent trips to Virginia to lobby top state officials and tell his story to the media– all in an effort to prevent the scheduled release of his attacker.

"He's really gone to bat for what he believes," says Troy Tippin, a retired Portsmouth firefighter, who, during the 1973 kidnapping, secured the use of a Coast Guard helicopter to search for the missing youngster.

Andrews' efforts seem to be paying off. In December, he obtained a meeting with Governor Mark Warner.

"That was probably instrumental," says Ellen Qualls, the governor's spokesperson, "in the governor's finding money for that program."

"That program" is the Civil Commitment for Sexually Violent Predators Act, a 1999 law that has gone unfunded because of the current state budget crisis. Qualls says the governor has recently submitted a budget amendment that would put $300,000 into the program and has crafted language that might apply to Andrews' abductor, Richard Alvin Ausley, and a "handful" of other repeat sexual offenders.

Andrews' work didn't stop at the Capitol. Late last year, he began tracking down other victims in the hope that prosecutors might open new criminal cases against Ausley.

One of those alleged victims, Gary E. Founds, whose father and two brothers actually testified in Ausley's defense in the Andrews' kidnapping trial, has now revealed that Ausley raped him, too.

Another alleged victim Andrews had been seeking without knowing his name, George "Buck" Miller of Chesapeake, suddenly appeared Wednesday, January 22, to testify before the House Appropriations Committee.

"That was a surprise– a great surprise," says Andrews, who– like the other two men– says that although Ausley is now 63, he still poses a grave danger.

Ausley had served 10 years in prison for raping a 10-year old before allegedly attacking Founds and Miller, each then 14. Ausley was scheduled to appear in court to answer charges in the Miller case on the 1973 day he kidnapped Andrews.

Now incarcerated at Brunswick Correctional Center, Ausley was unavailable for comment. Prison sources indicate that Ausley was so incensed about a Richmond Times-Dispatch story that focused more on his crimes than his art (he does "still lifes, animals, and pastoral scenes," according to the Times-Dispatch) that he has cut off all media contact.

As for Andrews, even he finds the media attention a little disconcerting in its focus on him as a victim. Moreover, he occasionally has to deal with suggestions that because he's gay, he somehow encouraged the attack– or that Ausley's assaults are perhaps the reason he became a homosexual.

"You wouldn't say that a girl who was raped became a heterosexual because of that," responds Andrews.

This week, Andrews is back in his Miami office as a computer technician, trying to write thank-you notes and answer emails. But before he left Virginia, he tied up some loose ends.

On Sunday, January 26, he reunited with the two surviving hunters who found him chained in that box deep in a Suffolk forest. Together, they returned to the scene of the crimes.

"There's still a hole in the ground," says Andrews, "and there's still wood in the hole. It looked like the earth was reclaiming it."

Revisiting the site was emotionally difficult, says Andrews, but necessary. "There's still a scar there, but it's healing."