Maximum sentence handed down in sexual battery case on disabled Wichita woman
WICHITA, Kan. (KAKE) - "That way, he will not hurt other people ever again. I hope God is hearing me," said Stephanie Grow.
Assistant District Attorney Shannon Wilson stood hand-in-hand with Stephanie Monday, reading a statement on her behalf to her abuser, Francis Oshakuade, moments before a judge sentenced him to prison.
"I have waited with my mom for four and a half years to get things off my chest," said Stephanie.
Oshakuade was convicted of aggravated sexual battery and mistreatment of a dependent adult. He worked as a bus driver for Alpha House, a daytime activity center for people with disabilities. Stephanie says he would rape her when he was supposed to pick her up.
"I do not know how my daughter even survived that. Thank God she did," said Brenda Schroeder.
Stephanie's mom described to the judge in an emotional statement some of the horrible things Stephanie says Oshakuade did to her.
After hearing from both sides, the judge sentenced Oshakuade to the maximum allowed under the law for the circumstances – 68 months.
"She has already gone through the worst, the worst thing in her life that could ever happen... I want him to be in prison for the rest of his life," said Brenda.
After watching officers take Oshakuade away in handcuffs Monday, and after five years of sleepless nights fighting for this moment, Brenda says Stephanie got home, said, "I finally feel safe," and immediately fell asleep.
"I'm feeling relieved. And I will be happy the rest of my life," Stephanie said.
Schroeder says she's not done yet. She plans to fight for new laws requiring cameras on any bus responsible for transporting anyone who's disabled or elderly.
WICHITA, Kan. (KAKE) - "I kept having nightmares," said Stephanie Grow.
Nearly five years ago, Stephanie was living in one of the worst situations imaginable, and no one knew.
"I was feeling kind of confused, and scared. And don't know what to do," she said.
Stephanie started going to Alpha House, a daytime activity center for people with disabilities.
A while after she started, her mom, Brenda Schroeder, noticed something wasn't quite right, but she couldn't figure it out – until finally, one day…
"She was sitting at the dining room table. And then all of a sudden, she said mom, Francis is pulling my pants down and turning me over on the front seat of the bus," said Brenda.
Then, Stephanie clearly uttered the heart-wrenching words…
"Francis has been raping me."
Francis Oshakuade, 56, worked for Alpha House at the time as a bus driver, picking up disabled people like Stephanie who couldn't drive themselves.
As soon as mom found out, she rushed her to the hospital for a rape kit.
"That proved that she had blunt force trauma in her vaginal area," said Brenda.
At first, Stephanie says she was too scared to say anything, because after he raped her, Oshakuade would say, "You better not tell anyone, especially your mom."
Terrified he might hurt her, Stephanie kept her mouth shut until, one day, she had an epiphany.
"I want to protect the other people, and get justice," Stephanie said.
She says she realized if she didn't speak up, nothing would stop him from doing the same thing to others like her.
And it worked.
Last month, nearly five years later, Oshakuade pleaded no contest to aggravated sexual battery and mistreatment of a dependent adult.
"I mean, we both cried and hugged each other, and it was just like, it is huge emotional. Thank God. You finally stopped him. No matter what happened, she stood up, and she stopped him," said Brenda.
Monday, Judge Bruce Brown sentenced Oshakuade to the maximum, 68 months in prison.
It's something Stephanie has been bravely fighting for years, and mom couldn't be more proud.
"Say something, and keep fighting until you do get the justice. Because she's done an excellent job. I'm glad she's my daughter," said Brenda.
"I'm glad you're my mom," Stephanie replied.
Alpha House sent KAKE News a statement in response to this story, saying:
"Alpha House, Inc's top priority is the safety and well-being of our consumers. We go through mandatory guidelines to background check any who comes through our doors as an employee. It's unfortunate that we cannot control the choices individuals make, however upon our awareness (of these terrible acts that were done to one of our cherished consumers); we went to the greatest lengths to ensure that he received the maximum consequence. We are pleased that he will be put away for these gruesome acts. We commend Stephanie for her courage and bravery by coming forward. We urge anyone that may be experiencing ANY form of abuse, neglect, or exploitation to come forward."