RAPE: A victim?s mother speaks out

Emma Dejong

Emma DejongManaging Editor

It does not take much to trigger a mother’s protective nature. Drugs, murder, rape and other extremes may not always seem realistic, but they definitely cross her mind once a child leaves her safety.

For one SDSU student’s mother, rape became more than an unrealistic possibility.

“You worry about those things as a parent, and then when it actually happens …”

The mother trailed off.

In spring 2010, Chris Jones raped and robbed three female students on campus and was arrested April 20. “Janet Smith’s” daughter was the second victim.

Now, after Jones has been charged with three counts of rape and one count of kidnapping, and was sentenced to 80 years in state prison, Janet is ready to talk about the experience.

“Trisha Smith”, the victim, called her mother the night she was attacked.

“Unfortunately she called me in the middle of the night, so I did not hear the phone ring,” Janet said.

Janet saw she had a voice mail in the morning.

“I had a message that she had been robbed and assaulted 8212; she was obviously in tears,” Janet said.

Janet did not want to discuss specific details of what happened the night of the attack, and Trisha was not ready to comment.

“She was happy to be alive &- happy he didn’t kill her,” Janet said. “She just wanted to get on with her life.”

Trisha asked Janet to stay with her overnight after it happened.

When she was with Trisha, Janet couldn’t believe the comments she heard from the other women on the floor.

“The way that the girls talked 8212; it was like it was a joke,” Janet said.

She said she and Trisha overheard people saying things like “Why wouldn’t you fight back?” and “How could you do nothing?”

“These girls need some education about what it means to get raped and have a knife put to your throat,” Janet said.

While she felt disrespect from other women, Janet said she was very impressed with the SDSU men, especially with the Safe Walk Brigade, a group on Facebook created for “letting people know they have options to walk safe at night.” On the wall, men post their phone numbers so women know who they can call for an escort.

“The guys on campus 8212; they were great,” she said. “They came together and just wanted to protect the girls on campus.”

Janet had some issues with the security measures the university took. After the first attack, the university did not inform anyone about it.

“I was really, really disappointed when I got [on campus], and there were not any notifications,” Janet said. “I went to the restroom, and here’s all these different flyers [promoting different events on campus]. Well, what a good spot.”

Janet talked to SDSUPD officers, telling them her concerns, and flyers were put up the day after Trisha’s assault.

“I’m not trying to take credit for this, but [Officer Cora Olson] told me that me thinking about it is what got [the notifications] going,” Janet said. “I was very upset that this is not what happened after the first incident.”

Trisha told her mother that she would have taken more safety precautions had she fully realized what the situation was.

“… had the warnings about the attacks been up, she told me, “Mom, I wouldn’t have gone out alone that night,” Janet said.

Janet said she understands the reasoning for not publicizing rapes, but safety should be a priority.

“I think the university shouldn’t be as worried about the publicity of the situation as much as the safety of the students,” Janet said.

In April, Bob Otterson, executive assistant to the president, said university officials acted in way they thought served students best.

“University officials made decisions with the best information available at the time, and we will continue to keep the safety and well-being of our students and employees top-of-mind,” Otterson said at the time.

Now, Janet hopes future university investments will include more security cameras.

Overall, Janet was happy with how SDSUPD handled the situation.

Trisha now takes more precautions on campus and is more aware of the dangers that exist.

“She doesn’t like being outside alone at night and tries to avoid those situations,” Janet said. “… I’ve been told that the campus police will give escorts any time. Girls should be using those services.”

Trisha is still dealing with what happened in April and is in counseling now.

Janet said Trisha is handling everything well.

“I was really glad she wanted to stay in school,” she said. “I think a lot of it has been support from family. She knows me and her dad are here anytime she needs us.”

Janet said she and Trisha’s father have been with Trisha through everything, and they are recovering now, too.

“We’re doing alright,” she said. “It’s hard … After it’s happened, I think you tend to worry more. It’s hard to deal with that because you feel pretty helpless as a parent.”

The National Institute of Justice, which is part of the U.S. Department of Justice, reported research that found “one of six U.S. women … has experienced an attempted or completed rape,” and this is four times more likely for college age women.

“If I had some advice … it’s to stop and think a little bit,” Janet said. “Be aware that there are plenty of people out there who have been victims.”

Janet and Trisha Smith are false names used to protect the sources’ privacy.