Delaney Henderson was raped by a classmate when she was 16 years old

By Char Adams
June 23, 2016 05:35 PM
Facebook

In the wake of the media storm surrounding a judge’s controversial decision to give sexual assault convict Brock Turner six months in jail for the attack on Stanford’s campus, one sex crime survivor is speaking out in a heartfelt letter to the victim.

Delaney Henderson, 21, posted the emotional letter on Facebook, recalling her own trauma as she encouraged the Stanford victim, who is 23 and has not been publicly named, to stay strong.

“I am writing to tell you that I understand your pain I know what it feels like to have a school and the justice system completely fail you. I felt like my attacker, like yours, only received a slap on the wrist for raping me,” Henderson wrote.

Delaney Henderson
Courtesy Caroline McKee

In March, Turner, a former Stanford swim team member, was convicted of sexually assaulting an unconscious woman behind a dumpster on campus. He was sentenced to six months in county jail – though authorities told PEOPLE he will likely be released on September 2 – and three years of probation.

“There was not enough justice for you when your attacker received such a lenient sentence. They took so much from us, and justice has not been served for the pain we continue to feel every day,” Henderson wrote.

Henderson was just 16 years old when she was the victim of a sex crime by two fellow classmates, a minor and a then 17-year-old named Shane Villalpando.

“I know nothing can change the way you feel or the way you have been hurt. I know this because on June 3, 2011, I was raped, taken advantage of, humiliated, and robbed of my self-worth and innocence,” Henderson wrote.

“Two older, wealthier and more popular boys from my Catholic high school in California assaulted me in my own bedroom. The physical pain was bad enough, but the emotional toll I endured after the assault is what truly broke me.”

Villalpando was convicted of one felony county of unlawful sex with a minor and, as part of a deal, pleaded no contest to the charge. He was ordered to pay a total of $20, 726 in restitution to Henderson and her family, the Santa Maria Times reported. He was sentenced to one year in prison for the rape of another teen girl who also attended Henderson’s school, St. Joseph High School in Santa Maria, California. (The other alleged perpetrator was a minor and his records are sealed.)

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Henderson wrote that, after the incident, she was ridiculed, bullied and threatened by her classmates – including some of Villalpando’s friends. She left school and even attempted suicide, she wrote.

As Henderson worked to move on, she wrote that she got a call from Angela Rose, a sexual assault survivor who founded PAVE (Promoting Awareness, Victim Empowerment), a non-profit organization that works both to help rape survivors and prevent sexual assault.

Brock Turner
Santa Clara County Sheriff's Office

“That call changed my life I became a PAVE ambassador, and with the support of Angela and PAVE, I slowly began to gain back my power,” she wrote, noting that she co-founded her own organization called SafeBAE, which works to combat sex assault among youth.

Both Henderson and Rose spoke out about their respective incidents in an episode of CBS’s 48 Hours in 2014. The episode will air again on Saturday at 8 p.m. ET on CBS.

“I am writing this to tell you that you are not alone. I understand what you are going through because I am going through it with you. You are truly inspiring to me and to so many other survivors out there,” Henderson wrote to Turner’s victim.

“I hope you realize that you’ve given a sense of hope to every survivor out there, who has never thought they could win. You’ve already helped so many lives by using your powerful voice and standing as that beacon of light for all of us in the darkness.”

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