Grand jury called by a Kansas woman does not return rape charges


Kansas woman Convened a citizen grand jury using state law 134 years ago She said she was angry on Wednesday after the prosecutor refused to file a rape charge against a man accused of attacking her, but was not surprised that the jury did not prosecute her in the case.

McPherson’s Madison Smith, 23, gave a grand jury after saying that a fellow student at Bethany University had beaten and strangled her during a sexual encounter in a dorm room in February 2018. Collected hundreds of signatures to appoint. A two-year trial period after pleading guilty to a deteriorated battery.

The grand jury was convened on October 18, and Smith was informed of the decision on Tuesday.

Mr Smith said the grand jury’s refusal to file rape charges strengthens society’s reluctance to deal with victims of sexual assault honestly and fairly.

“I was very angry that people refused to be educated about it just because they didn’t see what rape was,” Smith said. “I was also angry that the victim had to take more steps than they should have done, but it still didn’t work as we wanted.”

Defendant lawyer Brent Boyer said Wednesday that he had not represented Stolzenburg for some time and refused to comment on the grand jury’s decision.

Kansas is one of six states that use a law passed in 1887 to allow citizens to petition for a grand jury. Smith’s case is believed to be the first time someone claiming sexual assault has used the law.

Smith said the encounter with Stolzenburg was agreed until she began to lose consciousness and began to slap her and strangle her until he feared he was trying to kill her. rice field. She said she was choking and could not verbally withdraw her consent.

When McPherson County lawyer Gregory Benefiel refused to file a rape charge, Smith used Kansas law to call his grand jury. She stood on the street and told her story to a stranger to collect hundreds of signatures on her petition. And she did it twice after the first petition was rejected for professionalism.

Despite the grand jury’s decision, Mr Smith does not regret publishing his case and hopes that victims of sexual assault will change the way law enforcement officials and society in general treat them. He said he wanted.

“I’m just tired of everyone closing their mouths about rape,” she said. “I wanted to be aware of not only my case, but the fact that victims of rape and sexual assault do not receive justice or the treatment they should have.”

Benefiel did not immediately return a call asking for comment on the grand jury’s decision. Sex offenses are “very difficult to prosecute,” he said in a May interview, as the jury was “looking for evidence of that CSI type.”

He believed that both he and Smith wanted “truth and justice,” but said he had different ideas about what would happen in this case.

Smith’s mother, Mandy, who works at Bethany University in Lindsborg, about 70 miles (112.65 km) north of Wichita, shines on how her daughter stands up for herself and how victims of sexual assault are treated. He said he was proud of his determination to guess. Legal system.

“She wasn’t treated with empathy or dignity,” said Mandy Smith. “Prosecutors don’t understand how to work in a traumatic way. That’s a big part of the problem in these cases … This case should help get consent education there. It should be everywhere, but it’s not. “

Retired detective Justin Boardman, who trains police and prosecutors to investigate sexual crimes, is often the victim of sexual assault, mainly because of cultural prejudices about such crimes. “Speaks a different language,” he said.

Law enforcement officers and the general public often wonder why victims did not scream or fight back, or why victims sometimes struggle to not talk or cry. He said he was wondering. All of these reactions relate to how the brain responds to trauma, he said, and there is a “big gap in misunderstanding” between victims and law enforcement agencies.

Madison Smith, who graduated in May and works as a medical assistant when enrolling in nursing school, said he was encouraged by the support he received from his family, friends and strangers in the process.

“We shook the bat as hard as we could, but unfortunately we missed it,” she said. “I had to know that I had tried everything I could.”