Archer County Justice

When a sheriff had sex with a criminal suspect, he called it an indiscretion. She called it rape. and a dallas federal judge called it a $2 million outrage

"Nothing has changed about his life," says Gail. "He himself has not been brought to justice."

Several people, including Austin police officer Merrill, say that they had hoped the FBI would get involved and convince the Justice Department to present a criminal case against Pippin to a federal grand jury. But neither federal agency has shown interest.

Gail Bennett is between secretarial jobs. She lost her last job when she had to take off too much time for the trial and the subsequent mediation sessions the plaintiff and defendant engaged in to see if they could agree on financial terms. The mediation resolved nothing, she says.

"Now I'm just trying to take back the reins of my life," says Gail. An important step, she says, was filing the lawsuit in her own name instead of using Jane Doe. "It made me feel like a survivor, not a victim."

To that end, Gail says she hopes to help other survivors of rape and plans to become actively involved in the Austin Rape Crisis Center. She recently appeared in a public service announcement for the center and was a featured speaker at the "Take Back the Night Rally" held in late April at an Austin park.

After the attack, she told the crowd of several hundred, "I wished that I had just sat in my truck and let my husband blow my head off. Any initial relief I had felt at successfully defending myself against an abusive mate had been suddenly erased by my inability to prevent a profound violation of everything I believed in--respect for authority, trust in law enforcement to protect me from danger. My belief in myself was also stolen. Rape didn't happen to people like me, so who was I now?...I was forced to redefine myself now as helpless, weak, ignorant--a victim."

Gail told the crowd that while growing up, her male role model had been her grandfather, who, for many years, had been a sheriff in Oklahoma. It was her grandfather who gave her the Smith and Wesson .38 that saved her life, with strict instructions that she was never to point it at anyone unless her life was in danger.

"One sheriff had saved me," she said, "and now another sheriff had taken my life, as I knew it, away.

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