What's The True Story Behind Netflix's Unbelievable Serial Rapist?

Unbelievable Netflix

Warning! The following contains SPOILERS for Unbelievable. Read at your own risk.

Netflix's latest series, Unbelievable, puts two female detectives on the trail of a serial rapist, who authorities originally believed to be a person one of his victims made up. This harrowing story is based on the award-winning 2015 Pro Publica and Marshall Project story about the real-life case. So what's the true story behind the latest Netflix original and serial rapist Christopher McCarthy? We have the details for you.

To begin, the actual rapist's name is not Christopher McCarthy, but Marc O'Leary. O'Leary was caught and plead guilty to the rape of three women, and an attempted rape of a fourth in 2011. The rapes (which included a version of Unbelievable character Marie) and attempted rape all took place in the Colorado area. O'Leary was sentenced to 327 and a half years in prison (the maximum sentence), and was given an additional 62 years in Washington the following year, after he plead guilty to another two rapes.

When he was initially sentenced for his crimes, Marc O'Leary seemed to indicate he was aware of the impact of his heinous crimes. The Denver Post shared part of O'Leary's message to his victims in its publication, in which the criminal talked about his double life, and how his thoughts of sexual deviancy traced back to as early as age 5.

I’m standing here because I need to be in prison. I know that probably more than anyone in this room. I’ve known it for awhile.

Though Marc O'Leary was given the maximum sentence, it's worth mentioning that his prison sentence was part of a plea deal. The prosecutors were happy with the arrangement, as the sentence ensured O'Leary would spend his life behind bars, and the victims would not have to endure a trial.

As far as the methods shown in Unbelievable, most of what was seen on screen tracks with reality. O'Leary would break into the homes of sleeping women, rape them a number of times, take photos, and then make them shower and brush their teeth to get rid of the evidence. O'Leary believed that people were either "Alphas" or "Bravos" and would occasionally call those he felt were Alphas "wolves." So, basically, most of what is shown on Unbelievable in that regard is true.

Unfortunately, another big bit of Unbelievable that is true is the story of Marie. The 18-year-old was not believed by police, and was pressured to recant her statement which resulted in a charge of false report of a rape. O'Leary's arrest later vindicated Marie, though the officers responsible for coercing Marie to recant her statement never faced any professional punishment for not investigating her claims as closely as they should have.

Why Unbelievable Is Netflix's Next A+ Drama

Unbelievable is currently available to stream on Netflix, and is a great choice for anyone looking for a new series to binge in September. Continue to stick with CinemaBlend for more streaming recommendations and the latest news happening in the world of television and movies.

Mick Joest
Content Producer

Mick Joest is a Content Producer for CinemaBlend with his hand in an eclectic mix of television goodness. Star Trek is his main jam, but he also regularly reports on happenings in the world of Star Trek, WWE, Doctor Who, 90 Day Fiancé, Quantum Leap, and Big Brother. He graduated from the University of Southern Indiana with a degree in Journalism and a minor in Radio and Television. He's great at hosting panels and appearing on podcasts if given the chance as well.