On Thursday, January 18, 2018, Trina Kim Townsend–referred to in this article by her preferred name, Kim, and also commonly known as “Eclipse”– delivered a testimony at the Chicago Police Board Hearing. Standing at the podium, dressed in black with long dreadlocks, Kim, 50, slowly read her statement, frequently raising her head to acknowledge the Police Board––a board of private citizens appointed by Mayor Rahm Emanuel with the advice and consent of the City Council. The board includes notable figures such as Chicago Police Board President Lori Lightfoot and notable Democrat Andrea Zopp.
Kim alleges that the retired Chicago Police Sergeant raped her in the late 1980s.
Kim began her testimony:
“Until I met the Officer, I believed what my mother had always taught me—that the police are nice; that the police help people…to trust the police. I even wanted to be a Chicago Police Officer, just like Starsky & Hutch, Charlie’s Angels, and the Mob Squad. I wanted to serve and protect the citizens of Chicago, but one day…the dreams of an innocent child were stolen.”
Kim says her encounter with then-officer began when she contacted him to report another crime.
“I decided to flag him down as he drove around the corner in his police car. I reported that I was being molested by my dad inside of my home and had been sexually assaulted by three of the guys that resided on my block about a week prior.”
Kim lived on Laporte Ave. in the Leclaire Courts community at the time. She notes that she was inclined to seek Officer Glover’s attention because he was well-known in the predominantly Black community and appeared to be trustworthy. Kim described him as “the ‘Officer Friendly’ of the neighborhood.”
“When I told him what had been happening, he assured me that he would take care of the situation.”
According to Kim’s testimony, the officer returned a few days later and used her report as a pretense to lure her to a remote location.
“One evening as I was walking, the officer pulled up and told me to get into his police car. He even got out and opened the door for me. At first, I hesitated, thinking about what my mother had always taught me–not to get into a car with anyone.
“When Officer noticed that I was reluctant to get into the car, he told me that he was taking me to the police station so I [could] talk to his Sergeant about what happened to me. So, I trusted him and I got into the car. I thought that I would be okay because I was with a police officer.
“After a while, I noticed that we were headed down West 47th Street towards Pulaski. He turned left at Kolin and 47th St. When I asked where we were going. He didn’t answer. He just kept driving.”
The neighborhood was Archer Heights, a predominantly White Chicago community and industrial center filled with factories, some of which were abandoned. On the day Kim describes, that he pulled his squad car up to the dock of one such factory on 45th and South Kolin.
“When the Officer came around to open the back-passenger door on the right side, he said, ‘I’ve been waiting on you to get a little older…I have been waiting for this day…Now, take off your pants.’
At first, I resisted and told the Officer that I wasn’t taking off my pants. He became very agitated. That’s when he balled up his fist and made a gesture as if he was about to punch me in the face. I stopped resisting.”
In her testimony, Kim reports that she was raped on that day and many others, allegedly continuing to assault her on a monthly basis over a period of four years.
“He was always on duty. He was always in the patrol car, always in uniform, and he always took me to the same area—near the back docks on South Kolin and 45th Street.”
The officer in question officially retired from the Chicago Police Department in May 15, 2015, after nearly 30 years of service. The City Council passed a resolution sponsored by Ald. Derrick Curtis (18th) to give the sergeant an extended congratulations for his services on November 18, 2015. In it, the Council praised Sgt. The “illustrious career” and “dedication to and fulfillment of the motto of the Chicago Police Department – ‘We Serve and Protect’…”
The officer in question could not be reached for comment on Kim’s allegations. The Police Department did not release requested statements before press time.
Kim, who spent nearly 16 years working in social services, says that she initially repressed her thoughts regarding the alleged incidents by indulging in hard drugs:
“Eventually I had to move from my parent’s home, just to get away from the police officer. Rather than be around him, I turned to the streets. I got involved in different situations that were not conducive for me. I began using heroin and cocaine, and became homeless. Living in abandoned buildings, garages, cars, parks, and even on the trains & buses. [There were] even times that I had to eat out of garbage cans. But it was either that, or Glover.”
In an interview following her testimony, Kim revealed her reasons for finally coming forward: the reappearance of now sergeant in a conversation with her daughter, the strong support system behind her, and the desire to face her fears and inspire other women.
“[My daughter] is 19 and has been with me through all of these years. She gave me the encouragement. She told me an officer approached her and told her to tell me he said ‘Hello,’ and that I would know who he was. That sparked emotions and feelings inside of me. She said, “Mom, you have to come out with your story. You have to…because what if it’s some other kids that have gone through what you have.”
“I’ve always been afraid…been afraid…been afraid. I can’t be afraid anymore.”
In regards to women reporting rape and sexual assault to the police, Kim is not a statistical anomaly. According to a 2010 report by U.S. Bureau of Justice statistics, only 15.8 to 35 percent of all sexual assaults are reported to the police. Based on another U.S. Department of Justice sponsored study, Dr. DG Kilpatrick’s research Drug-facilitated, Incapacitated, and Forcible Rape: A National Study, the Maryland Coalition Against Sexual Assault condensed documentation for survivors not reporting sexual assault:
- Not important enough to respondent
- Belief that the police would not do anything to help
- Belief that the police could not do anything to help
- Did not want to get offender in trouble with law
- Did not want family to know
- Did not want others to know
- Not enough proof
- Fear of the justice system
- Did not know how
- Feel the crime was not “serious enough”
- Fear of lack of evidence
- Unsure about perpetrator’s intent
These reasons can be summed up as fear, shame, lack of evidence, feelings of helplessness, and no true systems of accountability for perpetrators.
Also, Kim has trouble recollecting the exact dates of the alleged instances of rape. She alleges the officer raped her for 4 years on a monthly basis, but cannot pinpoint the exact dates in which the alleged abuses occurred. However, research suggests that such is common for survivors of traumatic events.
In a recent Times article, Dr. James Hopper, instructor at the Dept. of Psychiatry at Harvard Medical School, and Dr. David Lasik, President of 1in6 (a non-profit that provides information and services to men who were sexually abused as children), concluded “…it is not reasonable to expect a trauma survivor – whether a rape victim, a police officer or a soldier – to recall traumatic events the way they would recall their wedding day. They will remember some aspects of the experience in exquisitely painful detail. Indeed, they may spend decades trying to forget them. They will remember other aspects not at all, or only in jumbled and confused fragments. Such is the nature of terrifying experiences, and it is a nature that we cannot ignore.”
Where trauma prevented Kim from sharing, her support from family and a budding movement created the necessary conditions for her to feel safe enough to bring forth her truth. As Kim delivered her testimony to the police board, Cristal Noel of the Women’s All Points Bulletin (WAPB) was there to comfort her. Noel also pushed the board to be more responsive to survivors of sexual assault by law enforcement.
The WAPB is an organization created by women survivors of police violence that seeks to eradicate all forms of violence against women during policing encounters. WAPB and Kim are teaming up to start a #CopsToo movement that pushes survivors of sexual violence from law enforcement to come forward with their stories.
“As a police officer, there a lot of things you guys get away with. Sexual assault? That ain’t one! Abuse? That ain’t one,” Noel firmly expressed to the board. “I want a woman here every month telling you she has been a victim of sexual assault.”
“I saw Oprah Winfrey’s speech, the last part of it. That gave me a push as well. It’s something I feel I have to do. I’m not afraid anymore and I want other women to come out with me, ” says Kim. “It’s something I feel I have to do. I’m not afraid anymore and I want other women to come out with me. More women coming out regardless of race, more people coming out regardless of gender. To come out and not be afraid to say they have been sexually assaulted by police officers.”
Kim is willing to take a polygraph test to back her testimony.
**This article has been updated: 1/24/18 10:42am**