15-year-old rape survivor is fighting the justice system for the right to make his voice heard. C.H. was raped and sodomized by the mother of a classmate. With the support of his parents, C.H. is willing to testify in court, but the McPherson County Attorney’s Office refuses to charge the case as a rape, claiming the minor was a “willing participant” during a meeting with C.H.’s family.
On an evening in late April 2020, Jennifer Sams, a 36-year-old mother of three, provided alcohol to several minors, including C.H. at her home throughout the day and evening. Sams kissed C.H. on the back porch with other minors present, and later raped him inside her home.
Deputy County Attorney Amanda Faber, who is prosecuting the case, met with C.H. and his parents in early November 2020. During the meeting, the deputy county attorney made it clear that she would not charge Sams with rape or other sexual assault charges, but believed she could prove charges of indecent liberties (engaging in lewd fondling or touching of a child) and unlawfully hosting minors consuming alcohol.
According to Faber, “people on the jury might not look at it as rape because he is a boy,” insinuating McPherson County residents wouldn’t believe a male could be raped and aren’t capable of understanding the plain language in Kansas Statute explaining it is indeed rape, but would view C.H. as a “willing participant” despite the facts of the case: C.H. is a minor under the age of 16; he was provided alcohol to the point of inebriation by Sams; and Sams raped and sodomized him in her home.
The county attorney’s office also stated that they did not feel C.H. was “strong enough” to testify. C.H. and his parents are applying a seldom-used Kansas statute summoning a grand jury in order to seek procedural justice. Notably, the county attorney’s office has blatantly violated the Kansas State Constitution (Article 15.15 Victims’ Rights) and Kansas State Statute 74-7333 (Bill of Rights for Victims of Crime) on more than one occasion — see Madison’ Smith’s case.
Gender roles came into play here: a teenage boy is not seen as a victim, but a willing participant. Boys can be raped, in fact, an estimated one in six American males experience sexual assault or abuse in their lifetime. Stigma and culture have a substantial impact on survivors. Sexual assault is already a massively underreported crime; for male survivors, the likelihood of disclosure is even lower. Prosecutors like those in McPherson County are perpetuating the harmful myth that “boys can’t be raped,” and that if they come forward, they won’t be taken seriously.
Male survivors face a high risk of serious mental health issues including depression, PTSD, and difficulties at school/work or in social settings. C.H. wants to come forward and share his experience, believing that it will help mitigate some of the negative consequences he’s currently suffering and prevent his rapist from harming others, but the county attorney’s office is actively preventing C.H. from the opportunity to pursue justice for what was done to him.
C.H. deserves to have his voice heard, and he deserves justice.