Stillwater News Press

Local News

August 21, 2012

Dozens gather for vigil at courthouse

STILLWATER, Okla. — Dozens of people gathered in front of the Payne County Courthouse Tuesday to take a stand against sexual assault, violence and abuse in Stillwater, Payne County and Oklahoma.

Nearly everyone wore teal ribbons — the national symbol of sexual assault awareness.

“We will not be silent anymore,” said Brenda Gill, Stillwater Domestic Violence Services senior counselor.

Organizers said the event was prompted by the recent conviction of Oklahoma State athlete Darrell Williams.

One of the victims who testified during the Williams trial in July wept as OSU Human Sciences Assistant Department Head Jarrod Noftsger shared his story of being sexually abused when he was 8 years old.

“It took me 30 years to find the courage to name the man who abused me,” Noftsger said, adding that the two Williams trial victims are the bravest members of the Stillwater community.

“I appreciate the support that we have had,” said one of the Williams trial victims who requested anonymity. Both victims attended the vigil with family members.

Noftsger explained to the crowd that the victims are never to blame.

“They have been sentenced to a lifetime of pain and trauma,” he said.

Police representatives from Stillwater, OSU and Iowa tribe departments were present and said they support victims of sexual assault.

The event ended with  supporters lighting candles.

“When these candles go out, continue to keep the light in your heart,” said Gill.

Williams is set to appear in court on Friday for sentencing.

 He is currently being held at Payne County jail.

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