BRYAN, Texas — Jacob Pape, a former Texas A&M student, Christian camp counselor, and member of the Brothers Under Christ fraternity, was sentenced this week to seven years in prison for sexually assaulting women.
There are a number of resources available for sexual assault survivors to turn to in Brazos County, such as the Sexual Assault Resource Center -- and for students, Texas A&M’s Counseling and Psychological Services. Still, many are reluctant to come forward for a multitude of reasons. In the case of Pape, the age-old tactic of shaming and victim-blaming was utilized.
"He also had a religious aspect to that," said Jessica Escue, assistant district attorney for Brazos County. "He knew that our survivors were extremely strong Christians. In fact, all three of them were extremely strong Christians. And he used the Bible and some teachings in order to manipulate them into believing the assaults were their fault.”
The survivor in this week’s case came forward after hearing a sermon from Breakaway Ministries which supported those victimized by sexual abusers, encouraging them to speak out. Roommates of the defendant, who had noticed concerning behaviors, heard that same sermon.
"This had a huge effect not only on our survivors but also on the defendant’s roommates, who were also people of faith, to see that they needed to step in and do something," said Escue.
Escue expressed that many people need more education on the concepts of consent and force. Laws in Texas concerning sexual assault have updated definitions in recent years to include coercion. The Rape, Abuse and Incest National Network, known as RAINN, explains that sexual assault can occur by means of coercion and psychological manipulation.
“We always encourage survivors, even if they don’t want to report this to law enforcement, to reach out to [SARC]," said Escue. "They have professional counselors and advocates that can advise survivors of sexual assault cases what their potential solutions are.”
Escue also encouraged survivors to speak with law enforcement, even if they don’t feel as though it would help anything – because it just might.
“We tell survivors, even if we are not able to definitively prove your case, having that record... if they [the assaulter] potentially harm someone else, [your report] could be used potentially as evidence in that case, just like it was in this case," she explained.
This week’s case involved just one of three alleged victims. Another victim listed in this case has their own case against Pape pending in court.
For resources on sexual assault, visit www.rainn.org. The Sexual Assault Resource Center is also available at the following link: