Woman becomes counselor after abused by ex-fiance, serial rapist

Posted at 5:43 PM, May 25, 2012
and last updated 2012-05-27 19:14:28-04

SALT LAKE CITY -- Angie Alexander was in a relationship with a man who was physically abusive to her and who later turned out to be a serial robber and rapist.

While her former fiance, Helaman Pragana, was terrorizing Salt Lake County, Alexander says he was hurting her at home. And until Pragana's arrest last fall, Alexander knew him as her soon-to-be husband who occasionally beat her.

"It can't happen to me, I'm too smart, I'm Angie, I'm from Philly, I've got tattoos, nobody's going to abuse me. And when it happened, I was shocked," said Alexander.

As time went on during their relationship, Alexander came to a dual realization that she was indeed the victim of domestic violence and that she was living with a predator as evidence mounted against Pragana.

"You never think the guy loving you and hurting you at home could potentially go out in the community and hurt other people -- why would he, why would he, what does it benefit?" says Alexander. "You never look at someone and go 'he's a rapist.'"

Alexander worked with police to help get her ex-fiance arrested, all the while thinking about the other women he had victimized.

"They saw a man with a gun, they didn't know if it'd be their last moment. Who wants to go through that? It's absolutely horrible," says Alexander.

Helaman later pleaded guilty to multiple crimes, while Alexander and her children wound up in a shelter. But she has used that time to start a non-profit organization and become a counselor.

Her group, the Mended Wounds Association, is sponsoring an event Saturday in Salt Lake City to let the public know there is help for abuse victims.

"We have a lot of people who are going to come together and show victims that you can stand up and say 'hey, I've been hurt and I need help.' It's a speak up and get help event," says Alexander.

The event is scheduled for Saturday, from 1 to 5 p.m. at Library Square in Salt Lake City, where advocates and information will be available.

Pragana will be sentenced June 8.