Monday, September 21, 2009

"Justice Before Mercy"

by Susan Murphy Milano

Laurie Asplund was sexually assaulted at a Christian camp in the 1970s. The former pastor began his advances during a trust game that the man of God played with the teenager. Asplund was sexually assaulted more than 40 times from summer 1974, when she was 14 years old, to spring 1976, when she was 16.

Justice finally caught up with former pastor Russell J. Lesser, now 64, who had moved to Bryson City, N.C. For three years, Asplund worked on the case with law enforcement. In late June 2009, Lesser was sentenced to 10 years in prison for sexually assaulting Asplund in the mid 1970s.

The State of Wisconsin kept the case open because Lesser moved out of state. Otherwise, he would have never been convicted. As it stands, he went on to work in other states in the meantime. I’m sure he had access to others, as he was a Youth for Christ Campus Life minister.

During his sentencing, Lesser asked for the court’s mercy and apologized to his victim, the now-50-year-old Laurie Asplund.

“I’d like to take that one year out of my life,” Lesser said. “I’m so deeply sorry for it.”

In her new book “Justice Before Mercy” Asplund is coming forward with her story in an effort to remove the stigma associated with sexual assaults. She wants victims to know it's not their fault and hopes her message will help others to feel empowered and confront their fears.

In the book Asplund talks about the fear of rejection and the reasons why it was so hard for her to talk about her traumatic experiences. “I didn’t know if people would believe me,” Asplund writes. “He was this gregarious, fun-loving and well-liked adult who many parents liked very much.

Laurie Asplund is a licensed professional counselor who works primarily with abused and neglected children, as well as with people diagnosed with borderline personality disorder. Using this combination of clinical knowledge and journalistic talent, Asplund tells a unique and educational story about just what it takes to survive and find justice 35 years later.

1 comment:

Leah said...

Kudos to you for seeing this through. It is a miracle this man even spent one day in prison for what he did to you.