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Selby victim speaks out after conviction

By Holly Wells
Arizona Daily Wildcat
Monday, October 11, 2004
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One of James Allen Selby's victims, who was a UA student at the time she was attacked, talked about her experience after the trial in hopes of confronting the shame that most sexual assault victims feel.

Selby was convicted Thursday on 27 of 34 counts of sexual assault, kidnapping, attempted murder and other charges.

Selby was accused of attacking five Tucson women and a 13-year-old girl between October 2001 and May 2002, sexually assaulting three of them.

Rape victims are usually not identified in the media, but Tiffany Nakajima, who now lives in Colorado, asked reporters to use her name after the trial ended. She said she wants to encourage other sexual assault victims to speak out.

Nakajima, who left the UA immediately after the assault, was the only one in the Selby trial who had her throat slashed during the assault.

Tamara Faust and Jenny Bush, two of Selby's victims, also asked that their names be used after the trial with similar intentions of encouraging women to report sexual assault.

Nakajima said although sexual assault is highly common it is also highly underreported.

According to the Rape, Abuse, and Incest National Network, in 2001 only 39 percent of rapes and sexual assaults were reported to law enforcement officials.

Nakajima said while going to a support group in Seattle she met a woman who had been sexually assaulted while she was a student at the UA and had not reported it.

"It was just so ironic how many people are out there who don't report it," Nakajima said.

Nakajima said it's important for victims to report sexual assault because it's been suggested that all rapists are serial rapists. Even if the person is not prosecuted, the incident will be on their record, Nakajima said.

Nakajima said she didn't have a choice in reporting her assault because her throat was cut during the assault and she was rushed to the hospital where she told her story.

"I would have reported it even if my throat had not been slashed," she said.

Nakajima said sitting through the trial was very emotional and brought back flashbacks of her assault.

"It's difficult to sit through," she said. "Hearing so much detail about an experience that was so life altering."

But Nakajima said overall the trial was a positive experience and said it was empowering.

"I'm glad to know that he will never assault another woman again," she said.

Nakajima said although she left school and Tucson immediately after the assault she received support from the Oasis Program on campus.

Tina Tarin, violence prevention specialist at the Oasis Program, said the program provides counseling, education, advocacy and outreach to students, staff and faculty who have been affected by sexual assault, dating violence and stalking.

Tarin said the program also offers self-defense classes throughout the semester as part of its outreach and education.

The program offers confidential counseling and lets victims choose whether they want to report an assault to law enforcement, Tarin said.

Tarin said unlike any other crime, sexual assault victim's reputation gets put through questioning.

"Regardless of what the victim was wearing, whether they were drinking alcohol, or what their behavior was like prior to the assault, it does not make it their fault," Tarin said, "It was the person who did it's decision and they are the ones responsible."

Nakajima said sexual assault is a crime that carries shame and secrecy. She said this was one of the reasons she wanted to come forward.

"It's important to have a name and a face to the victim," she said, "otherwise it just adds to that veil of secrecy. Victims should know it is not their fault."

Tarin said 90 percent of the cases the Oasis Program sees are acquaintance situations in which the victim knows the assaulter.

Nakajima said she's also found this to be true in her contact with other victims.

"I assume that Selby most likely committed assault on people he knew before moving on to women and children who he didn't know," she said.

In the two and a half years since her assault, Nakajima said she has been through therapy and gone to support groups.

She said she doesn't think it's possible to heal unless you talk to someone.

"It does get better eventually, go to therapy and learn how to help yourself," Nakajima said.

Nakajima said she finds sexual assault activism to be the most healing.

She has spoken at residence halls about her experience and has both taken and taught self-defense classes. Nakajima describes these experiences as empowering.

"I think there is some reason why I survived it. Part of that reason is so that I can help educate people," she said.

Superior Court Judge Howard Fell will sentence Selby on Nov. 22. Selby, who has already been sentenced to 20 years in Colorado on rape charges, will most likely spend the rest of his life in prison.

The 37-year-old former soldier is also accused of attacks on women in Oklahoma, Nevada and California, all linked to him through DNA evidence.

Victims of sexual assault can call the Oasis Program at 626-2051 or the Rape, Abuse, and Incest National Network helpline at 1-800-656-HOPE.

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