THE DECISION OF JUDGE RALPH STROTHER TO ACCEPT A PLEA DEAL FROM JACOB WALTER ANDERSON IS A HARMFUL MESSAGE TO SURVIVORS EVERYWHERE

The decision issued just days ago by Judge Ralph Strother to dismiss four counts of sexual assault against Jacob Walter Anderson for repeatedly raping and choking a 19-year old student at Baylor University, nearly killing her, is appalling and harmful. Permitting Anderson to accept a plea deal, despite objection from the survivor, allowed him to evade both jail time and registration as a sex offender and sends a message to survivors across the country that our court system is not a place where accountability lives for them. With this decision, the McLennan County District Attorney’s Office and Judge Strother have denied justice for this survivor and have contributed to making it harder for survivors to seek help and pursue justice nation-wide.

In another decision, the Tennessee Supreme Court ruled last week that Cyntoia Brown, who is currently serving a life sentence after being convicted for first degree murder for shooting her rapist, must serve 51 years of her sentence before she can become eligible for parole. She will be 67 years old. Brown is a survivor of child sexual abuse and trafficking, and although the shooting happened when she was just 16 years old, she was tried as an adult. By making this decision, the Tennessee Supreme Court further punishes Brown for surviving child sexual abuse and allows yet another abuser to evade accountability again. Tennessee Governor Bill Haslam is considering the decision to grant Brown clemency, but the precarity of her situation nevertheless speaks to the magnitude of injustices that survivors, especially survivors of color, face when they attempt to protect themselves from violence. We must acknowledge and ensure that survivors, including survivors like Cyntoia Brown, have a right to safety and support.

To come forward and speak about your experience with sexual assault is an act of tremendous courage.

Resilience will always stand with survivors.  As we make incredible strides through national survivor-led movements, we also know that survivors continue to endure persistent attacks on their freedom and human dignity while abusers are not held accountable daily.  In the midst of a national rape culture that still blames survivors for the choices of their abusers, we owe it to survivors everywhere to stand in solidarity with them, not against them.

Survivors deserve better and we must do better.

CALL 615-741-2001 to ask that Gov. Bill Haslam grant clemency to #CyntoiaBrown before he leaves office in January. Visit Color of Change for a script and tips for calling: //tinyurl.com/y7y7p4on. #RiseUpWithResilience #CyntoiaBrown

Resilience is an independent, not-for-profit organization dedicated to the healing and empowerment of survivors of sexual violence. Through programs, outreach, and support, Resilience strives for a world free of sexual violence for everyone. Learn more at www.ourresilience.org and follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram @ResilienceChi.