FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: December 10, 2020
Contact: Justin Boardman
Boardman Training & Consulting
801-231-0881 (text or call)
Rape Survivor and Family Fighting Prosecutorial Discretion for a Shot at Justice
McPherson County, KS – A 15-year-old rape survivor is fighting McPherson County Deputy County Attorney Amanda Faber for the right to confront the rapist at trial. He may also have to fight the court of public opinion.
“When I first heard about what happened, I didn’t want to believe it,” notes Kaitlyn Hoeffner, the survivor’s 18-year-old sister. “This woman raped my little brother. I didn’t know what to do. My brother said he was really drunk and I didn’t want to get him in trouble. I wanted to protect him. I confronted the rapist, and word quickly started spreading around town. My parents eventually found out. As a family, we decided we needed to help my brother get justice for what happened to him.”
Once adults were notified, youth witnesses confirmed that Jennifer Sams, a 36-year-old mother of three, served alcohol to several youth throughout the evening at her home in late April 2020. After the youth were severely inebriated, she raped and sodomized the victim.
Under Kansas statute, rape occurs when one party is “incapable of giving consent… because of the effect of any alcoholic liquor, narcotic, drug or other substance, which condition was known by the offender or was reasonably apparent to the offender.” In this case, the survivor’s inebriation was not just known to but instigated by the offender and further complicated by his youth and inexperience.
Despite the assault being the very definition of rape, the McPherson County District Attorney has refused requests from the victim and his parents to file rape charges. Instead, the office charged Sams with unlawfully hosting minors consuming alcohol and indecent liberties, a charge commonly associated with much lesser forms of assault.
“The prosecutor basically told us that she wouldn’t file a rape charge because the victim is a boy, and she didn’t think she could win,” said Lori Wilson, the victim’s mother. “It shouldn’t be about male or female, winning or losing. Our son needs a chance to fight this injustice to begin healing, and the county attorney is denying him that.”
While it is often assumed teenage boys are willing participants, an estimated one in six American males is a survivor of sexual assault or abuse. Stigma has a substantial impact on rape survivors. Male survivors face a high risk of serious mental health issues including depression, PTSD, and difficulties at school or work and in social settings. They are less likely to report and, when they do, less likely to see justice.
“Survivors often see protecting others from their rapist as the key to their healing,” said Detective Justin Boardman (Ret.), a consultant working on the case. “We need a justice system willing to investigate all rapes, listen to all victims’ interests, and appropriately charge all perpetrators.”
On December 12, 2020, the family will hold a petition drive in the hopes of inspiring the McPherson County Court to convene a grand jury to investigate and appropriately charge the case. The petition drive will be held from 11:00 am to 3:00 pm CDT at Orscheln Farm and Home located at 2204 E Kansas Ave, McPherson, KS, 67460. For more information, see https://justinboardman.com/justice-for-ch or contact Justin Boardman at Justin@JustinBoardman.com; text/call 801-231-0881.
About Boardman Training & Consulting
Boardman Training and Consulting moves the criminal justice system toward victim-centric, trauma-informed strategies that hold offenders accountable. They train law enforcement in trauma-informed interviewing and investigation protocols, and advocate for survivors of gender-based violence.