After 38 years, woman still fighting Kansas rapist’s parole

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LAWRENCE, Kan. (AP) -

A woman who was raped 38 years ago as she jogged on the University of Kansas campus has returned to the state seven times to testify against her attacker’s release on parole, and she vows to continue her efforts as long as she can.

Jean Rhea was 25 when she was attacked in October 1981 by a man who held a knife to her throat and raped and repeatedly sodomized her on the Lawrence campus. She testified against her rapist, Sherman Galloway, who was sentenced to 30 years to life in prison with a possibility of parole after 15 years. Galloway was later convicted of a second rape and again sentenced to 30 years to life with a possibility of parole after 15 years. But the judge ruled that Galloway would still be eligible for parole after 15 years on the first conviction, The Lawrence Journal World reported .

Galloway is considered for parole every few years, and Rhea, who has lived in California for more than 30 years, has shown up every time to testify that he should stay in prison.

“For me, personally, it’s important that I have a voice,” Rhea said this month, after speaking to the Kansas Prisoner Review Board for the seventh time. “If I didn’t participate, I feel like I’d feel more like collateral damage.”

Rhea said participating in Galloway’s parole reviews furthers her decision to participate in Galloway’s prosecution.

“But is this exactly what I signed on for in October 1981?” she said. “No.”

In Rhea’s case, Galloway was convicted of rape and aggravated sodomy. In the second rape of a Kansas graduate student he was convicted in 1984 of rape, aggravated sodomy, kidnapping and aggravated battery.

At the time sentences for those crimes were given ranges. Currently, for the same convictions, Kansas sentencing guidelines set a number of months in prison based on the severity level of the crime and the defendant’s criminal history. The Douglas County District Attorney’s Office said most modern sentences don’t include parole hearing dates, only release dates.

Rhea returned to Kansas in 1996, 1999, 2004, 2005, 2007, 2012 and this year, said Joe Phillips, administrator of the Kansas Department of Corrections’ Prisoner Review Board. Rhea said her relatives also wrote letters when Galloway asked for clemency in 2017.

Parole consideration happens automatically, Phillips said. Each time, the three-member parole board gathers oral and written public comments, holds a hearing with the inmate, then makes a decision.

Galloway’s parole hearing is scheduled for April. If he is paroled, he could be out of prison May 1.

Both of Galloway’s rape convictions are considered for his parole proceedings, though Rhea said the other victim has chosen not to participate in person.

Rhea said she has never seen any Galloway supporters at the sessions she has attended. Former and current prosecutors, and the two now-retired university police officers who worked on the case have testified against Galloway’s release.

Retired prosecutor Shelly Diehl worked on Galloway’s case in the early 2000s when he filed a motion for DNA testing, which failed to exonerate him. She has spoken several times against paroling Galloway.

“I believe in the prosecution, and I believe that this is a person who should never see the light of day — his crimes were that savage,” Diehl said.

Rhea, who suffered from post-traumatic stress disorder and alcoholism after the attack, says she made it through her dark times and is now a licensed clinical mental health professional. She said the repeated parole proceedings have become less re-traumatizing.

“No one should ever be considered for parole who is a sexual predator that does not have the ability to express regret or remorse, and has never taken accountability for his crimes,” she said.