AUSTIN (KXAN) — A man who admitted to attacking a woman and exposing himself to a child is now on probation for the next 10 years.
The survivor Lynn Isaak made it her mission to find who attacked her, and might be the very reason police were able to arrest Antonio Rios. Rios pleaded guilty to charges of aggravated assault causing serious bodily injury and injury to a child for indecent exposure.
Nearly a dozen other women across the Austin area claim he preyed on them as well for nearly half a year before he got caught.
Isaak’s story is now bigger than just her. And it’s leading to an important conversation.
Out for her normal morning run in her Travis Heights neighborhood in 2020, Isaak never thought she would be in court in 2023 facing a man who attacked her.
“After I passed you, I could sense your evil behind me,” Isaak said in her statement during Rios’ sentencing. “I remember looking behind me and seeing you sprinting toward me and grabbing me. Some of the details are too gruesome and unspeakable to say out loud.”
Rios attacked her while she was running in broad daylight. Isaak said he posed as someone working out, just as she was. But she said she grew uneasy since he was wearing a mask.
“To this day, I will never forget you looking back at me like I’m just your prey,” Isaak said.
Isaak broke her leg and had to get surgery. She said she couldn’t walk for four months. During that time, she was determined to find out who attacked her.
Shocked from the traumatic event, her Apple Watch would be key evidence in the case against Rios, as her movement showed just how hard she fought back during a recorded seven-minute attack.
“Officers didn’t think it was likely they would find the suspect,” Kelsey McKay, an attorney representing survivors, said. McKay is also the founder of the nonprofit organization RESPOND Against Violence.
Isaak said she looked for other possible victims on the NextDoor app.
“Over the course of about three or four months, [the survivors] were able to link him to additional attacks, identify his vehicle, take a picture of the vehicle, pull images off of Ring doorbell, and then eventually, because women were aware of that, begin to memorize his license plate and take pictures of the perpetrator,” McKay said. “They then developed a flyer that had an image of the perpetrator, as well as an image of his car. And then they were able to create a map that identified all the different locations for incidents that had occurred.”
The group of women began connecting the dots. At least 10, who became victims while out jogging, walking their dogs or even with their children, according to McKay.
There is some closure, nearly three years later. During the sentencing, the courtroom was packed with women who said they are also Rios’ victims, and supporters of the women.
The last-known victim before Rios’ arrest was Lynne Riojas, according to McKay. Riojas and Isaak have found comfort in each other and their now network of women.
“She [Isaak] personally gave me the courage to stand up,” Riojas said.
Those who accused Rios do feel a sense of justice, though they wish he had received a tougher sentence than probation.
“It’s difficult to sit in the courtroom and listen to these difficult experiences that they went through,” Jorge Vela, Rios’ attorney, said. “We recognize that, this is not lost on us. This was a deal that was reached with the district attorney’s office after 16 months of negotiation. It took into account my client’s lack of criminal history…There are different purposes in the criminal justice system, and one of those is rehabilitation.”
Vela said Rios is receiving sex-offender treatment. Rios was on house arrest for six months prior to being on probation now, according to Vela.
“There will be no more survivors,” Judge Karen Sage of the 299th Criminal District Court said at the conclusion of Rios’ sentencing. “This is it. It ends here.”
Isaak and others telling their stories is timely, because speaking out falls during National Crime Rights Victims Week.
The survivors have since launched a campaign called “Not Today,” empowering other women to speak out. The group also testified at the Texas Capitol Tuesday after Rios’ sentencing. They are working to fight for victims to have more rights.