PORTLAND, Ore. - Not only did the victim of now-sentenced Bend rapist Thomas Bray go public in a newspaper interview published Tuesday -- after her identity was protected during an investigation and non-jury trial -- but she told The Oregonian that she is dropping her nearly $2 million civil lawsuit.
Jennifer Bennett said she only filed the suit in case the former COCC anatomy instructor was acquitted and still needed to be held accountable for the violent attack.
Bennett, 23 at the time of the Feb. 2011 assault, was in court late last week when Deschutes County Circuit Judge Stephen Tiktin imposed a 25-year sentence on Thomas Bray, 38.
The newspaper noted, "Bennett's case stands out for the intense scrutiny -- fueled by advances in social media-- of her personal life."
It notes the defense investigators' unsuccessful attempts to review her Facebook accounts, email, laptop and -- in a first-of-its-kind ruling in Oregon -- her Google search queries.
Bennett also didn't expect the sharp criticsm from anonymous online commenters who called her stupid for going to Bray's downtown Bend condo on a first date, or money-hungry for filing a nearly $2 million suit against him.
"Yes, I was raped," Bennett told the paper. "It doesn't make me a bad person. I didn't make poor choices. I was not the criminal."
The system allows for a terrible intrusion, she said, but she also told The Oregonian that wants people who suffer similar attacks to know that they have the power to put their attackers behind bars.
"It's the one nugget that I could hold on to through all of this -- that a dangerous criminal will be off the streets," said Bennett, who now lives in Seattle.
Bennett also said she has decided to drop her civil lawsuit against Bray, which she saw as another means to hold him accountable for the attack, in case he didn't go to prison.
Bennett also said she is dropping the civil suit because she wishes to be done with long, drawn-out proceedings that invade her privacy.
Bennett is undergoing counseling for post-traumatic stress disorder and has been unable to work. But despite that, she encouraged other victims to know their rights to privacy and pursue convictions.
"It's not OK that we live in a society where a victim would consider whether they want to report that crime," Bennett told the paper. "If someone came up to you and beat you with a baseball bat, you wouldn't think 'Should I report that?'"