Alderwoman says she was sexually assaulted at Mizzou

Sara Wood-Martin goes public to warn against proposed Missouri law

Kevin Killeen
March 11, 2019 - 6:00 pm

ST. LOUIS (KMOX) - Alderwoman Sarah Wood-Martin says she never told a soul -- not even her mother -- and her mother only found out last week because she saw it on Twitter.

Martin recently tweeted that she was "locked in a frat house room and assaulted at Mizzou." 

In her first interview on the subject, Martin tells KMOX she's going public now to warn the Missouri legislature against making changes in state law that would make it harder for victims of campus sexual assaults to come forward.

"This is not me attacking Mizzou, I had a great experience there," Martin said, "but, yes, I was in my second week of college. I was in a fraternity that ended up getting kicked off months later. But I was in a room, people disappeared, and I was locked in a room and I had a guy -- I don't want to get into the details -- but one of their members assaulted me. Thank God someone showed up and opened the door."

Martin says she's dredging up the unpleasant memory from 2002 so that the Missouri Legislature will not change the law governing how colleges respond to allegations of sexual misconduct.

"I thought folks that are working on this bill in the capitol -- I have a lot of relationships with these folks - I work with these lawmakers -- and I thought, at least they could see someone that they see day-to-day, and work with, and hopefully respect, and know that this happened to me."

Bills filed in the Missouri House and Senate would strengthen the due process rights of accused sexual assaulters to defend themselves, allow their lawyers cross-examine their accusers, and allow those found guilty to appeal their cases.

Martin says the effect could be chilling on college-aged women, forcing many to not come forward.

"Part of the crux of this issue is the person who comes forward is automatically assumed that they are the victim and they are given protections," Martin said. "They don't have to live in a dorm with the person they've accused. They don't have to eat in the dining hall (with him), and they wouldn't have to attend classes (with him)."

She's also worried that the bill contains something she calls the "retroactivity clause."

"So, this would allow cases in the past that have been resolved to be opened up again," Martin said, "and I don't understand the motives behind that. I don't know if some of these folks coming forward, if they have personal motives involved in that, but I think it's very strange they want to do a retroactivity clause."

Martin is also concerned about the growing number of lobbyists pushing for passage of the bill - lobbyists funded by anonymous donors.

"I think it has dark money. I think there are a lot of hired guns on this that might be doing this for the wrong reasons. I think there are conflicts of interest," Martin said.

Martin hopes the Missouri Legislature shelves the bills, until the federal government comes out with more clear guidelines for how colleges handle sexual assault cases under its Title IX law.

© 2019 KMOX (Entercom). All rights reserved.