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Jail assault allegations leave rape victim’s case unsettled

  • The Wichita Eagle
  • Published Saturday, Sep. 29, 2012, at 3:18 p.m.
  • Updated Wednesday, April 2, 2014, at 1:09 p.m.

The attack that changed her life and led to her current outrage began around 4 a.m., more than two years ago.

Until that minute, she felt secure. That morning, an intruder cut a screen in her Sedgwick County home. She is a light sleeper and quickly sensed that someone had opened her bedroom door. She got up, looked around and saw a man holding a knife. He threatened to slit her throat if she screamed, then raped her, tied her up and assaulted her again. Her young children were at a relative’s.

She’s still waiting for justice. A man has been charged and convicted of the crimes, but has not been sentenced because he is trying to withdraw his guilty plea. “He’s been physically confined for two years, but I’ve been in my own prison for two years,” she said.

Her frustration recently turned to outrage because, while her case is dragging on, his attorneys have filed a $10 million claim with Sedgwick County over allegations that a jail deputy sodomized him this spring while he was in jail over her rape case.

“The fact that he thought it was OK for him to assault me, but when he gets assaulted,” she said, her voice trailing off.

“Maybe now he knows how I feel. Maybe now he knows what I went through.”

The Eagle’s policy is to not identify victims of sexual assaults without their permission. The Eagle is not identifying either person, both in their 20s.

There is a big difference in their cases, she said: No lawyer came to her after she was attacked, to help her seek damages. He seems to be standing to benefit, while she does not.

Part of her frustration is that his sentencing was delayed because of the case against the jail deputy.

“My case got delayed because of what happened to him,” she said.

While the man accused of raping her has private lawyers representing him in the $10 million claim with the county, a first step toward a potential lawsuit, she said she doesn’t have the money to hire a lawyer to sue him.

Victims of violent crime can get up to $25,000 through the state to compensate them for such things as loss of earnings and medical care.

He’s alleging that the deputy violated his constitutional rights. She contends that he wouldn’t have been an inmate in the first place if he hadn’t violated her constitutional rights.

If he hadn’t sought so many continuances in his case, she said, he would have been in prison by the time he says he was assaulted.

“If he’s the rape victim, give him the money, but then turn around and give me half,” she said.

“My biggest fear and outrage with this isn’t the fact that he is going to get the money, and I probably won’t, but he’s going to get this money before he’s convicted.” She worries that he could use money he might collect from a settlement to post bond. She believes he is a flight risk because he was accused of stealing her van after she was raped.

The man’s attorney, told of the woman’s views, said it’s possible she could sue if his client is convicted.The man’s attorney, who asked that he not be identified to help protect his client’s identity, argues that there is a “stark difference” between the woman’s case and his client’s case. “In our case, the offender is a law enforcement officer who is sworn to uphold the law,” he said.

She said it would be hard to put a monetary value on her damages. The way she sees it, he took her sense of security, diverted her from her career path by interrupting her college study, made her fear that harm could come to her children and damaged her vehicle. She had to borrow money to get her stolen van out of an impoundment lot. She ended up having to sell it. She has no vehicle now.

On top of the damage, she said, is her frustration that her rape case has yet to be resolved.

“There’s nothing I can do except depend on the justice system, and for two years I tried that.”

On June 18, the man charged with attacking her pleaded guilty under a plea agreement to aggravated burglary, aggravated kidnapping, rape, criminal threat and theft. According to his plea agreement, he was facing about 18 years in prison.

But in August, he filed an appeal of the guilty plea. His attorney argued that his client “has always asserted his innocence,” that his client was “suffering from significantly high levels of mental distress at the time he pled guilty” and that because of the stress, “his capacity for decision making was significantly compromised.”

The former jail deputy, David Kendall, is charged with aggravated criminal sodomy in the man’s case and is awaiting a hearing to determine if there is enough evidence to hold a trial. Kendall is accused of sexually assaulting six inmates.

The inmate’s defense attorney noted that the evening before his client appeared in court to plead guilty, sheriff’s detectives interviewed him for hours about his “sexual victimization” by the deputy. “Forced to relive torture and punishment that no man should endure, (his client) entered the courtroom the following day ‘emotionally raw.’ ” According to a psychologist’s evaluation in July, the defense attorney said, his client was “overwhelmed with feelings of disgrace — as though he had been ‘unmanned.’ ”

Meanwhile, the woman said she leans on her church for emotional support.

“If I could give any advice to other rape victims or people who could become a victim … it is something you can work through. It only has the power to ruin your life if you let it, and it’s easier said than done, and it takes time.

“Venting always helps me.”

Reach Tim Potter at 316-268-6684 or tpotter@wichitaeagle.com.

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