ST. CLOUD, Minn. (WCCO) -- A firefighter says she's using the worst experience of her life to help others.
In October of 2020, Megan Conrads was kidnapped by three men while walking in downtown St. Cloud. She was sexually assaulted multiple times before she escaped.
As a student at St. Cloud State University, Megan enjoyed school, sports and spending time with people she loves.
"I lived with some of my really best friends. I loved it. I mean, I loved being with my friends all the time," Megan said.
On the night of October 18, 2020, she was walking downtown to meet her friends, when the unthinkable happened. Out of nowhere, three men forced her into a car and began driving away.
"They're pouring Hennessey down my throat, forcing it down my throat and at the time I'm like, 'I'm not drinking it.' They're like, 'You're drinking it. You're doing what we say. We have a gun and we will kill you if you don't do what we say,'" she said.
They drove her to a St. Cloud park and pushed her onto a slide. Her attackers were swearing at her and telling her to shut up.
"I remember just looking around and like, 'These are my last moments of alive. There's no way out of this," she said. "I just stayed there holding onto my pants for dear life. I'm like, 'This is not about to happen.'"
She was sexually assaulted by two of the men on the slide and then forced back into the car. That's where the third man assaulted her, while the others recorded the rape on their phones.
"They were all just so happy, so excited about it. And almost proud. I mean, they were recording it. They were so proud of what they were doing," she said.
Eventually, Megan escaped and ran to a house where she got help. A friend took her to the hospital where doctors did a rape test and collected DNA.
"I was like, 'Is this real?' Like, you never expect it to be you. You don't," she said. "For me it was mental. It was a lot of mental damage."
"As a father you're supposed to protect your kids and your wife, and my heart sunk. It was really hard," said her father, Dave Conrads.
Months went by and she started to think her attackers would get away. Then one day a St. Cloud detective called and told her they had made arrests.
"I just froze, I looked at my friends and we screamed. We cried together, we hugged each other. It was the best phone call I ever received," she said.
Twenty-five-year-old Sahal Abdi Hassan pleaded guilty to criminal sexual conduct and received 15 years in prison. He testified against his friends at trial. Mohamed Hassan Abdi received 27.5 years in prison, and Abdirahin Omar Ali got 30 years behind bars.
"I just told myself, 'I'm not letting this happen to anybody else,'" Megan said.
She testified during the trials, and her mom Wendi was in court to watch.
"I just needed to be there every day, as hard as it was to listen to. And when she would testify I was there, and she had somebody to look at while she was talking," Wendi said. "I'm just so thankful that she was as strong as she was."
"We are very proud of her. The biggest thing that Megan was able to do was prove that what these three monsters did to her did not define her. She defined them and put them away for a long time," Dave said.
From the night she was assaulted to today, Megan has relied on her family and friends for support. She's making progress. And the courage she's shown has carried over into her new career as a firefighter.
"I'm not just doing it for justice for myself, I'm doing it for justice for all the girls who have been through it. All the girls who didn't get this justice. I'm fighting for everyone," Megan said. "I want to use the worst thing that ever happened to me to help others."
Megan's family wants to thank St. Cloud police, Stearns County prosecutors and the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension for helping Megan get justice.
Megan said she's willing to help anyone who has been through what she's been through, and needs someone to talk to.
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