Author Name: jRon Hartnett
A life changed forever by rape:
horrific car crash
Roxy enrolls in college. Fellow classmate Jason–cute, athletic, the college mascot–who did backflips when they scored–becomes her boyfriend. He wants sex. Roxanne said no. “I almost tore his penis off.”
Deans ignore her plea for help.
Points Jason out at the fitness center: “Better watch out. He’ll try to rape you.”
College president calls. Rox is threatened with expulsion.
Roxanne remains a passionate, high-energy woman. She lives live to the fullest. Throughout, she embodies Hemingway’s credo–grace under pressure.
Length of Sample (in words): 3272
Find the missing piece
I know I’m not perfect,
I know sometimes
I forget to pray.
I know I’ve questioned
I know sometimes
I lose my temper.
I know I fall short
of the Glory of God.
But thank you for Loving Me
Unconditionally & giving me
Another day to start
To those I have wronged,
I ask forgiveness.
To those I may have helped,
I wish I did more.
To those I neglected to help,
I ask for understanding.
To those who helped me,
I sincerely Thank You,
On Roxanne’s bathroom vanity
Chapter One Going Alone
Never dawned on me until driving north from Tucson, Arizona, stoned out of my gourd, fiancé Roxy driving through the late night (and who turns out to be quite adept behind the wheel) that there’d be clairvoyance midst a mental fog. That she always did it by herself—basically with no help from anyone.
And, above all, Roxy is real. Never wears makeup or carries a purse; she takes stairs two steps at a time. And, of course, she brooks no quarter. She is the gray-eyed Athena ready to help Odysseus in peril.
Looking back almost two and a half years ago, I find myself often caught by surprise. Back then, knowing this True Grit gal for but a few months, hearing her story of rape and abandonment, repeated sexual assaults in college by her boyfriend who would not take no for an answer, I nevertheless had your typical default response to Roxanne’s plight and, by extension, single mom’s everywhere: the old nose to the grindstone, shoulder to the wheel advice.
But like all cliches, you can only take them so far until they hit the light of day—which in this case is a story so far out of the ordinary as to border on the incredible. unbelievable. And, on that drive, the dark miles from Tucson to Phoenix and then to my cousin’s home where we were staying in Sun City, a few sharp pieces of her life story—raped, giving birth to the child, abandoned by patriarch dad and hence her entire family when she refused a late-term abortion.
Of course, as we see later, because Roxanne lived at home, there was no financial aid available. While she struggled to raise her daughter Kelsey the right way, it wasn’t long before household tensions grew between her siblings.
This was complicated, as we will see in the next chapter, by a horrific car crash that nearly took her life. With a traumatic brain injury, having to learn how to read and write again, going to physical, occupational, and speech therapy for eight months, a return to normal was no easy task.
And break away she did. However,
Then, a few years later, enrolling in college to start a career, away from dead-end jobs so many women for one reason or another are consigned to, this single mom was—repeatedly—sexually assaulted in college the fall semester of her first year in college by her boyfriend. The dean, currently the college president, laughed in her face when she complained. He also told her not to call the police. Curt Frye said, “There’s nothing they can do about it.”
Did he not echo the sentiments of many so many colleges—brush it under the rug?
One realizes that yes, indeed, it takes a village. But what if, in Roxy’s case—and could well be the case for women who have been raped, automatically categorized and permanently stamped—there really never was one?
But, no, that night, soulful pieces of loss and longing, love and compassion started falling softly—like rain drops–on the parched desert floor.
Roxy, by dint of what has tossed at her over the years, has flown solo since the time she was raped at 19 and refused to have an abortion.
“I told my friend Molly that the guy had sex with me was without my consent. She didn’t say anything. But I didn’t have my period that month or the next month. I got a home pg test from a store like Walgreen’s. When it was positive I was very upset.”
Roxy kept it to herself. The 19-year-old decided not to eat. Would this stay the pregnancy, stop the inevitable? No. A few weeks later she had to tell her dad Joe.
“I didn’t want to just come right out and tell him. So I started crying in the kitchen. He came out of the living room and asked, ‘What’s wrong?’ Finally he guessed.”
But now what to do? A few days later, the ex-marine, who still wears his hair crew-cut fashion, suggested an abortion. Roxy refused. This dialogue between dad and daughter went on for a couple weeks. Joe finally said, “I know a doctor in Kansas City who will perform a late-term abortion. It will between just you and me. Nobody has to know.”
“No,” Roxy again said, “I’m not having an abortion.”
“Well,” her dad said, “you will have a difficult life with no child support.”
“I don’t care,” she said, “I’m just not having one.”
Now, with Roxanne starting to show, refusal to get an abortion, a few days later Joe said, “Well, we’ll have to tell mom.”
So, they summoned Roxanne’s mom June. Again they went into the kitchen. Joe, looking at his wife said, “Roxanne has something to tell you.”
A worried look stole over across her face. She turned to her daughter. Had she not years before had to deal with your oldest son getting killed at a plant malfunction at IBP? And then, a few years later, her second oldest son killed in a car crash?
“What?” June said, stepping away from the stove.
Roxy looked at her mom. “I’m pregnant.”
June breathed a sigh of relief. “Oh my God, I thought it was something serious. Like you had cancer or something.”
Roxy said, “No, it’s nothing like that. I’m pregnant.”
“Well,” June said. “I can babysit.”
Then, other family members, three sisters and one brother, were filled in. This was something the family, working together, would get through. Her sisters–one younger and two older–looked at her and said, “We thought you were getting bigger.”
However, family support and Roxy embrace began to erode. Patriarch Joe’s noncommittal stance toward his Roxy’s decision, yay or nay, set the tone. The novelty soon wore off.
Then, after daughter Kelsey was born in July, Roxanne worked two jobs to make ends meet. However, falling asleep behind the wheel on the way home from a wedding reception, she drove into the ditch. Unconscious and bleeding, she was found by a farmer the next day.
“It was Sunday and I had to get to work. People said, ‘No, don’t go, you’re too tired and it’s too far away.’ But I went anyway. I guess I came to a sharp turn in the road and went right into the ditch. A farmer found me. I was thrown from the car and he thought I was dead. He just went into town to get help.”
“The next morning?”
“Yep,” Roxy said. “Early Sunday morning. I was supposed to be at work at 8. My dad said he saw the Life Flight, the hospital helicopter fly over head that morning. And then they got a call a few minutes later, telling them that it was me.”
Wounds from the accident were severe. Roxy speculates that it was a car battery that was right next to her when they found her that had hit her in the head. In addition, her lower right leg was nearly severed.
“It was held together by just a couple ligaments and tendons. The doctors were going to cut it off at the knee but the my mom begged them not to. I think they said, ‘Ok, we won’t remove it. We’ll just show her that amputation was necessary.’
Roxy, however, always in great shape from running, kept her right leg intact.
She brought me a clip from the local newspaper. The Sioux City Journal.
HOLLY SPRINGS, Iowa–A Sioux City woman was critically injured in a one-vehicle crash Sunday morning after she apparently lost control of her car at the junction of two county roads west of Holly Springs.
Roxanne J. Woodward, 22, was listed in critical condition Sunday night at Marian Health Center, where she was taken by Marian Air Care, the medical helicopter.
The accident happened about 8:45 a.m. west of Holly Springs at the junction of County Roads K and 981, a spokesman for the Iowa Highway Patrol in Storm Lake said.
The patrol said Woodward was driving westbound on 982 when the car she was driving failed to negotiate a curb, went into the ditch and rolled. Woodward, who was driving alone, was thrown from the car.
Of course, there are sutures all over both sides and in front of the knee–like a jigsaw puzzle piece–which to this day she likes to do, i.e. “fix” jigsaw puzzles–had been glued back on. Then, wheelchair-bound for almost a year with daily physical, occupational, and speech therapy Monday through Friday, body and mind were pulled back together.
Because I had a similar bad accident, falling three stories as an ironworker working on permit, I always thought how hard it was to learn how to read and write again. I wondered if Roxy had run into the same difficulties.
“Well, all I know is people couldn’t understand me. They’d bring me pictures and have me learn them, just like I was a two-year-old. Then, when they brought Kelsey to the hospital to see me, I didn’t even know who she was. But gradually, I came around.”
“Yeah,” I said. “I had to learn everything all over again. But I knew I was lucky.”
“Yeah,” Roxy said. “They told my parents that if I survived, I’d be a vegetable.
“Yep,” I said. “The exact same thing with me. I always hated to be called a vegetable.”
Rox, however, had more things on her plate. She’d been raped by a guy her friend Molly had introduced her to, Jeff. It was Oktoberfest in Remsen, Iowa.
“Yeah,” Roxy said. “I’d just gotten off work. I was the head cook at the Sunshine Manor, what we always called ‘Raisen farm on the hill.’”
“Why did you call it that?”
“Because all the people there had wrinkly skin. So we called it ‘Raisen farm on the Hill.’ But I was tired and just wanted to go home and go to bed. But Molly, who also worked there, begged me to go to the Oktoberfest. And that’s where she introduced me to her friend Jeff. And we went to the bar, Beer City, and had a couple beers. Molly’s sister was out of town so we went to her house. And I don’t remember, I was pretty drunk, but we went to the bedroom and had sex. I woke up the next morning and knew I had had sex. So I left.”
“And Molly didn’t say anything?”
“Well, she said later Jeff asked, ‘Where did she go? I’d like to go out with her.’ But I never saw him again. Then, two weeks later, I didn’t get my period. I went to a drugstore like Walgreen’s and got pregnancy kit. And yep, I was pregnant. That really made me mad.”
“Yeah, you weren’t seeing anyone?”
“No. I’d never had sex with anyone. I know it has to be him. But Molly won’t report to the police that she saw him go into the bedroom with me. My dad said, ‘Sex without consent is rape.’ So her friend Jeff raped me.”
Hence, after that one night, a young woman’s life was changed forever. Her dancing days–what she liked to do with her friends around the Sioux City area–were over.
One thinks, Rage and Rape—are they not both four-letter words? Yet here’s how we roll, Roxy and I: we throw our hands straight up in the air. Like we crossed the finish line—we are victorious. Beating back the odds, loving and living at the outer edge of the Bell Curve we celebrate. Miracle Gal, Miracle Guy—her car crash, my construction accident. TBI as stamp permanent. Loving and living life at the Bell Curve’s edge.
Now, while my recovery from a three-story fall was a tough road, did I not have the village? Grandparents and parents, brothers and sisters, friends and neighbors carried me along. But for Roxanne, the village became a mirage. Three times, Roxanne, petiite and attractive, was sexual abused, twice post-recovery. The first resulted in pregnancy; the second after she’d simply gone out for dinner with a man she’d just met. Sex was part of the desert and for the young mom, who’d moved almost an hour away to start her college career, this was a non-starter.
“He was so insistent. Kelsey and stayed at the Haven House. He kept saying, “I love you. I didn’t try to rape you.’ I said, ‘Yes you did.’ So I took out a protection order.”
Then, a few months later, now a full-time student at Wayne State College, she started going out with a classmate nine years her junior.
“He was really cute. We started going out. But then by the third date, things went from kissing and light petting to heavy petting. After that, everytime we went out, he’d try to have sex with me.”
Jason, the college mascot, Willie Wildcat, who did a backflip every time the team hit paydirt also wanted to score.
“Almost every time we went out, he’d try to have sex with him. His uncles or somebody must’ve told him, ‘Don’t worry if she says no. Eventually she’ll give in.’ But every time went out he tried to have sex with me. He would not take ‘No’ for an answer. I said, ‘I’m never having sex with you, leave me alone’ but he wouldn’t stop trying. Finally, I decided, ‘He’s trying to rape me.’ I mean, I almost yanked his penis off.”
Not knowing what to do, Roxanne thought she could talk to the assistant dean. This, however, as we will see later, got her nowhere.
Despite these horrific episodes, the dark spell of sexual violence cast about her, the college president threatening to expel her if she didn’t stop complaining, Roxanne remains caring, loving, and gracious. Not all scars are visible.
No, she is doing her best to remain on good terms with her family. “Keep the peace,” she will say. Someday, somehow, won’t they come together? “I know, this one lady I was caring for said, ‘You just have to let go.’ I try and I do but it’s so hard. My family is so mean to me.”
And, as the chapters describe below, trying to get her act together, mom Roxanne and daughter Kelsey, their brave new world—new town, new career path—the second big act of their life together, they would find a way.
However, as the luck would have it, the first guy she goes out with, nine years her junior, winds up to be a serial rapist. Complaints to the dean, described below, went unheeded. Basically, the college response was typical—protect their good name. Moreover, as in the case of giving birth to a child after she was raped, having a serious car accident, no counseling nor help of any kind came forward. Riveting sexual assault cases on campus, 64 colleges now under investigation for their handling of abuse, mirror Roxanne’s 15 years removed. Why is there such denial? Why are academicians such slow learners?
Which begs the question, whom could she turn to for help? Dad’s solution—have an abortion—Roxy rejected. Then, four years later, set out to get a degree, family relations strained to the breaking point, no way could she turn to Joe or June—or any siblings—for help or advice.
But, as women come forward with accounts of sexual assault, this rape epidemic, you have an I-can’t-believe-this-is-happening moment. Women, then and now, get short shrift.
Even now, this dismissive attitude toward women remains on full display. For instance, a July 2014 rant from syndicated columnist George Will. He opined sexual assaults on campus gives women a sense of “entitlement” that puts them in a “privileged status.”
The subject of Will’s column, Lisa Sendrow, was shocked. “I was outraged. He made so many grotesque remarks.” As can be imagined, this put Sendow at center stage of a national debate. Somehow, it’s a privilege to be sexually assaulted” “I was enraged,” Lisa said. “Will’s column made it so that women don’t want to be exposed, don’t want to be called a liar. Women are afraid to come forward because he says it doesn’t exist. So many women are afraid to report, so afraid how people will react.” (http://mediamatters.org/video/2014/07/02/sexual-assault-survivor-lisa-sendrow-explains-t/199966)
Similarly, does Will mean this is something Roxy wanted? To have this predator come to her apartment to have sex while Kelsey was at school or sleeping? Did this give her an “entitlement”?
And, like Lisa, who talked about her not wanting to go to the same dining hall as the rapist’s friends, Roxanne not only would see her assailant strolling about campus with Dean Cawthon, see him do backflips at football games–Jason Gale was the college mascot and would festoon himself with the garb to be Willie Wildcat–she even had a criminal justice class with him–her minor, his major–later in her college career.
Meanwhile, Wayne State College set a precedent on how sexual assault cases would be handled: at all costs, save the college’s good name.
As Roxy says, “Everytime I see an advertisement about Wayne, I feel so bad for those families who are going to send their daughters there. And everytime I see an ad I say to myself, ‘I hate that college.’”
So too, were Lisa’s hard feelings regarding her rape. “I didn’t want to go outside anymore, I didn’t want to go to class anymore. How would he react to that?”
The question, why did she come forward? “Honestly, I was tired of being afraid. People need to come forward and start supporting the sexual assault causes.”
So, too, with Roxanne; her story needs to be told. She was not a liar. She should not have been punished for a crime she did not commit. The predator walked free: no punishment, no reprimand, no charges. Meanwhile, Roxy was left holding the bag. WSC not only, as we will see later, did everything they could do bury her case, sweep it under the rug, but sought to protect the institution’s good name.
But as we will see, for Roxanne, and in a larger sense Kelsey, there was no such thing as entitlement, no privileged status. Basically, repeated attempts to have sex with Rox were criminal acts. For mom and daughter, it was fear and loathing for four years on the college campus.
Which means Roxy was thrown under the bus first by her dad, the perp, and then college administrators. When it comes to academia, really hard to believe that such a laissez-faire attitude was and is in many institutions allowed to exist. What’s even more astounding is that George Will can be so cavalier and condescending regarding something so serious. His attitude, sad to say, seems to embody that of far too many people.
Whether or not there is wholesome living in small city in the heartland makes no difference—sexual violence can happen anytime, anywhere.
Roxy’s account–one TG (True Grit) woman as we shall see–will not only open a few eyes but set the record straight.
Chronicle of a young woman who was first raped then sexually assaulted on campus.
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NYU, Teachers College*Columbia University
National TV Commercial, 1976 (Metropolitan Life Insurance)
Published ebook, The Complete Guide for Successful Umpiring
Candidate currently for county commissioner
Adjunct Instructor Western Iowa Tech Community College
Excerpts from Reviews or References:
This is an excellent CD, beneficial for all levels of experience,
beginner to pro. There’s something in there for everyone. I’m most impressed with the Strike Zone setup, the best way to work the Strike Zone. This book really explains it well with pictures and diagrams. Especially for the young umpire coming in, this is a great place to start.
Wayne Maheny, retired NCAA, NSAA, semi-pro umpire for 17 years
2010-11 website: www.umpiringmadeeasy.com
2011 blog www.clubhousegas.com Go to “Blog” column, scroll down to “Blue Crew.”
2011 blog www.lapublishing.com Go to “Blog home,” pieces include “Living the Dream,” (March 11), “April is the Cruelest Month” (March 16), “School Bells Redux,” (April 1), All Systems Go,” (May 9) “Helping Hands with the Unknowns after Brain Injury,” (June 15), “Return to the Scene of the Crime After Brain Injury,” (August 31), and “Gabby Giffords Needs to Run Again.”
June 10, 2016 Letter to the Editor, “He truly was ‘The Greatest,’ Omaha World-Herald
http://www.omaha.com/opinion/the-public-pulse-june-he-truly-was-the-greatest/article_f097f439-64a1-50cd-b74b-1ee05a0fcb0f.html (there was a photo insert) There also was a headline: The Public Pulse, June 10: He truly was ‘The Greatest’
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