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'I literally fought for my life': Alleged victim of accused serial rapist shares story

An alleged victim of accused serial rapist Richard Mantha is sharing her story of a frantic escape and her journey to sobriety.

The former sex worker – whose identity is protected under a publication ban – tells CTV she felt she was going to die on a rural property east of Chestermere.

Now, she wants to help others who may be at risk. 

In a quiet Calgary park, she has asked to be referred to as Avery. 

A drug addict and sex-trade worker for 24 years, Avery is now more than nine months sober and out of the industry. 

"I lost hope. I didn't know anything about how to get away from that lifestyle," she said.

Avery says she survived horrifying attacks of a man Calgary police charged in a series of kidnappings, druggings and rapes.   

That man is 59-year-old Richard Robert Mantha.

But Avery says he initially introduced himself to her as Poncho.

She says he offered her money to do construction work at his home. 

"I was gonna go do a job and this person thought that they were going to take advantage of me obviously. And it turned out being just something vicious," she said.

"I literally fought for my life. 

"Suffocated, stabbed, left in the middle of nowhere."

It was April 2022 Avery says she was at this rural property.

It became the focus of a five-day Easter weekend search this year by Calgary police. 

Court documents show Mantha is accused of drugging Avery, choking her and using a knife during an assault. 

"I didn't know where I was gonna go. And I know I screamed at the top of my lungs all the way. It was a scariest moment in my life," she said. 

"All I remember was getting across a farmer's field and collapsing on the side of the highway."

But Avery says the life-threatening encounter was a wake-up call, so she got out. 

Fast forward to today, she has started a support group for other women addicted and in the trade but looking to escape. 

"Even if it's not to me, there's other people that they can talk to. And there's officers out there that they literally are doing that job because they want to keep us safe," she said.

Mantha faces 20 charges for allegedly assaulting five women over 17 months. 

Mantha is due in court next Friday for his bail hearing. Top Stories

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