Like many women, Jenna Scully’s story includes a life-shattering incident involving sexual assault.
Police say too many victims don’t report them; Scully did. Just 36 percent of completed rapes and 34 percent of attempted rapes were reported to police, according to a national survey.
April is Sexual Assault Awareness Month and Scully recently shared her story during a press conference at the state Capitol.
On Aug. 25, 1991, four days after she turned 18, she was raped. She was at a man’s Oklahoma City-area home where she had gone to baby-sit. He never left and raped her in front of two young children.
During the assault, which lasted somewhere between 45 minutes to an hour he threatened to kill her. She refused to surrender quietly. She noticed a tattoo on his arm and told him he was identifiable.
“Just let me leave,” she said to him.
At about 5:30 p.m., she recalls, she left the home and wrote down the man’s car tag number. She went to the nearest familiar police station — Warr Acres; the agency with jurisdiction was The Village Police Department.
Then her mother took her to a hospital. She recalls staff there treating her well. At the rape crisis center, the specialist was so professional and kind that the experience affected her deeply on an emotional level at the most horrible moment in her life.
On Aug. 29, 1991, Oklahoma County prosecutors filed a first-degree rape charge against Kenneth Duane Sanders, according to court records. Scully said prosecutors and the judge were phenomenal.
On Feb. 24, 1992, the jury trial began. Opening statements were made by the state and defense counsel. Witnesses and evidence were introduced. Two days later, closing arguments were heard and the jury retired to deliberate; at one point she learned they had a hung jury.
On Feb. 27, 1992, the jury returned with a verdict of guilty and set punishment at 20 years, the minimum possible sentence.
After the trial, Scully spoke with two of the jurors. One of them felt the defendant was a nice man and didn’t want to ruin his life. The other juror said the physical evidence in the case didn’t seem that bad, she recalls.
Edmond Police Officer James Hamm said one of the least reported crimes is sexual assault.
“It is important for the victim to report the crime so law enforcement can make an arrest,” Hamm said. “Hopefully by arresting a suspect of sexual assault, we can take that person off of the streets and prevent them from harming another victim.”
However, if the crime is not reported, that obviously prevents police from taking a bad person off of the streets and preventing them from doing this to someone else, Hamm said.
Family members or friends of a victim should support a victim because they have gone through a very traumatic experience and encourage them to report the incident to law enforcement, he said.
Scully said the exceptional treatment she received at the rape crisis center and the comments of the jurors inspired her to speak out. Counseling and support, including six center volunteers taking time off work to sit with her in court during the trial, helped her heal, as did family support, she said. She also had a good experience with police.
Scully said she hopes victims of sexual assault reach out to people who are in a position to help.
“I hope people find help and don’t be ashamed,” she said. “You just have to ask for it.”
Susan Krug, chief of the Oklahoma Attorney General’s Victims Services Unit, said in recent years the state has made numerous advances in advocating for victims of sexual assault. They include requiring sexual assault sensitivity training for law enforcement officers.
Krug said this year’s Sexual Assault Awareness Month theme is a call to action, and it’s time for men to get more involved. Female victims have men in their lives too, she said.
“It’s not just a woman’s issue,” she said.
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Where to get help
“Staying Safe: Sexual Abuse Awareness” will be from 10:30-11:30 a.m. April 16 at the Edmond Library. This program seeks to raise awareness on the effects of sexual domestic violence and sexual assault. Participants will learn where to go and what to do if they or someone they know are presented with this situation. Refreshments will be served. This free event is co-sponsored by the YWCA and the Northwest Kiwanis Satellite Club. To register or for more information call 341-9282.
Cody Pepper, director of Ata Karate and Life Skills Training, will teach free and open to the public self-defense courses at UCO in the Nigh University Center’s Heritage Room at 2 p.m. April 19 and at 7 p.m. April 26. For more information on this or other related programs call UCO’s Violence Prevention Project at 974-2224.
Information for victims of sexual assault or domestic violence is available through local police departments. Online resources include:
• 1-800-522-SAFE (7233), a 24-hour Safeline
• www.oag.ok.gov, the Oklahoma Attorney General Victim Services Unit Web page
• www.ocadvsa.org, the Web site for the Oklahoma Coalition Against Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault