Local woman wants sexual assault laws to be more inclusive

Posted at 10:32 PM, Mar 17, 2016
and last updated 2016-03-18 10:54:28-04

A Temple woman claims her neighbor sexually assaulted her -- but Texas law doesn't see it that way.

Now, 24-year-old Karen Mackey wants to raise awareness about the state's sexual assault laws.

It all started back in February, just a month after she and her family moved to Temple from Austin.

Her husband took their only car to work, but she needed some milk for her son. She asked her neighbor if he could go to the store and buy her some milk with her money.

"He said, 'Oh, I have plenty of milk. Just come over and get it.' And I said, 'OK,'" Mackey said.

But what happened next after she entered his house is something she could have never predicted.

"He made a comment about how small I was. He was like, 'Let me measure you.' And I said, 'No, don't do that.' And I was trying to pull away from him, but he immediately stuck his hands down my pants," she said.

At first, Mackey says she didn't want to get the police involved because she didn't think they'd be able to do anything.

"But it just ate away at me," she said. "I walked up to the police station, and I filed the report."

When she filed the report, she says police told her all they could charge him with, because of Texas' laws, was assault by contact -- a class C misdemeanor. A person cannot be charged with sexual assault unless there's some sort of penetration involved, according to the state's sexual assault laws.

"It was humiliating because I went through all that for nothing. It was basically telling me that no matter what happens to me, whether it's sexual assault or not, that they're just going to slap him with a fine," Mackey said.

Temple police say her neighbor, Willis Alfred Jr., pleaded guilty to assault by contact on March 8. Mackey says he only had to pay a $200 fine. 

"I'm worried for my children. I don't want to go outside. I don't want to see him anywhere," she said.

Families in Crisis Director of Programs Suzanne Armour says cases like these are not uncommon and says there's an organization working to change some of those laws.

"The Texas Association Against Sexual Assault, which we are a member agency, works very hard in Austin to examine and review legislation and laws regarding sexual assault to make sure that survivors receive the most benefit from the judicial system," Armour said.

If you are a victim of sexual assault and need someone to talk to, you can call the Killeen Families in Crisis Center's 24-hour hotline at 1-888-799-SAFE.

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