Mirna’s Story

Mirna Navarro-Garcia is a mother, a realtor, an advocate, a speaker, and a survivor of rape.

In 1991, Rudolph Acosta crawled through a cracked window and into Mirna Garcia's bedroom. Garcia, 16-years-old, became Acosta's first rape victim that night. Over the next few months, Acosta stalked and attacked at least twenty more women. Following this, police set up a sting operation and caught him.

But nearly 28 years later, Mirna received a letter in the mail from the California Department of Corrections & Rehabilitation that changed everything: Acosta was up for parole. When Acosta committed the crime, he was under the age of 25, which qualified him as a youthful offender under California law at the time. This meant that after serving half of his sentence, he could be paroled and released. Mirna knew that Prop 57 resulted in the early release of many inmates and had been expanded to sexual offenders. She believed the perpetrator would have an excellent chance of being released if she didn't speak up.

When Mirna first disclosed, she shared that it “continues to still be a struggle. It’s not something that people are comfortable with or are able to talk about… but the closest to feeling support was when the rapist was up for parole and I went to seek help to figure out how to keep him behind bars. I met with Esmeralda Soria, City of Fresno Council member, and she was one of my biggest support systems in helping me get the story out there. It was the first time that I felt like someone understands and even though they don’t know the ins and outs of what I'm going through…it helped me get to where I’m at.”

Mirna had a range of emotions, but in her spiritual life, she felt called to come forward.

“I felt like I couldn’t lay my head down…but at the same time, I felt like God was pushing me to do this and I had options; I could write a letter or send a video. But I chose to show up and Esmeralda helped me get the media involved to reach out to the rest of the victims. I didn’t know how I would let the rest of the survivors know that the perpetrator was up for parole.”

She helped gather City of Fresno council members from California and other survivors of Acosta to send a letter to the CDCR board which was sent to Governor Gavin Newsom and they supported the efforts to keep the perpetrator behind bars. ”Esmeralda was key, for someone in her position, to rally and help me with it. Everything aligned beautifully and all these people came around me to help keep him in prison. It took a village to do what was right and stand behind our community because we would have all been impacted had he been released.”

Mirna shares what it was like when her story came out in the media.

“There were a few news channels that requested an interview for English and Spanish stations. I met with Brianna Vaccari who was the journalist for Fresno Bee and who was also involved in the proceedings…There was a part that scared me [about having my story in the media]. I was opening my past and present to the world. It was really difficult to leave myself so exposed…it almost felt like I was naked…but I really felt like it needed to be done to help the rest of the survivors and victims, their family members, and our community. I needed to expose everything and that was really hard.”

Mirna was able to connect with the other women that were raped by Rudolph.

“Being that there were 20 of us who were raped by Rudolph, and eight of us only had enough evidence at the time to take him to court back in the 90s. I only had the eight names on the court document when he was sentenced and since this happened in the 90s, many of their names only had their maiden names.”

Mirna looked into the history of their family members and was able to connect to a daughter of one of the victims who died by suicide.

“It was really hard and I get it; it impacts your life. It changes your life and you are never the same person again. For instance, the work that RAINN does is impactful and I was able to have someone assist me during court. She was there for me and gave me a care package and shared with me what my rights were…I just wish that young woman knew that there was help out there and that RAINN and other organizations were there to support her through this….For me, RAINN helped me choose my journey. I find healing in sharing my story and in fighting for change to help as many people as I can..[so they can] live and thrive.”

Rudolph Acosta was denied parole and required to stay behind bars. Mirna reflects on the entire process of keeping him behind bars.

“Getting the letter in the mail, that the perpetrator was up for parole and facing this head on and dealing with it, has been freeing. It’s been amazing to be able to say this is what happened to me but this is not who I am.”

Mirna continues to tell her story, including with local high schools, and offer insight to other survivors in the world.

To someone who is weighing the decision of whether or not to come forward, Mirna says, “There is no right or wrong answer on how to come forward. The last thing you want is someone judging you for your decision of how you chose to handle it. You have to do what is best for you. That's number one. If I was talking to myself when I was 15-years-old, I would have wanted to hear someone say, you are not alone. I’ll protect you. I’ll be your voice; I’ll be the person you can lean on. I would want to know that there is something there because you can feel so alone…maybe the first door you knock on isn’t the right one. But you can’t give up. You can’t stop. If you need help, you have to find it. There is help out there even if you have to knock on a few doors.”

Mirna has found a peaceful place in her life full of healing and restoration.

“Even though I have gone through all of this, I am still standing here. I have a family of nine beautiful children, three girls, five boys, and one little angel. I’m thriving and will continue to live a life with no regrets…I am happy. I am living my best life! That one moment in my life, the rape, did not have to define the rest of my life. I choose me and I choose to live.”

Mirna’s email is MirnaNGarcia@gmail.com.

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