An Open Letter to SCCC President Paul Killpatrick on Sexual Assault as the “Last Straw”

An Open Letter to SCCC President Paul Killpatrick on Sexual Assault as the “Last Straw”


Seattle Central Community College
Office of the President
Paul Killpatrick, PhD 
1701 Broadway
Seattle, WA 98122

November 27, 2011

Dear Mr. Killpatrick,

I appreciate that SCCC may be less-than-willing hosts to the current Occupy Seattle encampment. However, I am truly saddened that you identified an attempted sexual assault as “the last straw” to evict Occupy Seattle.

SCCC and the Occupy Movement exist in the context of our broader culture and society where sexual assault is a significant social problem. Citing the attempted assault as a reason to evict the Occupy Seattle encampment takes appalling advantage of someone who has been the victim of a crime.

Using the attempted sexual assault to discredit a peaceful political movement is a reprehensible manipulation of a terrible situation. As a neighbor to SCCC, I am deeply surprised that no one in your institution–students, faculty or support staff–has yet publicly stated their opposition to your remarks.

I see from SCCC campus crime statistics that no sexual assaults have been reported in the last three years. As a former Women’s Center program director at a small college in Oregon, I can assure you that a lack of reports does not mean a lack of incidents. Rather, a lack of reports indicates an institutional climate where persons experiencing sexual assault do not feel safe enough to come forward for support.

Please do not politicize a personal tragedy for the political gain of your institution. There are other ways to work with the people at the Occupy Seattle encampment.


In solidarity with survivors,

Robin DeBates, MSW, LSWAIC
Volunteer with Occupy Seattle Medical Work Group



Robin works as a therapist providing crisis assessment and intervention services for youth in King County, and for all ages in Snohomish County. She has worked with individuals and families in crisis since 1999 in settings ranging from special needs summer camp to a domestic violence shelter, youth residential treatment and hospital-based emergency medicine. Her website is available here:

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