January 21, 2003 — Three women were honored today for bravery during a ceremony at the University of Utah. The recognition stems from the December 10th attack of Amber Keller as she was getting into her car near Kingsbury Hall. Two other women, Julie Willis and Joanne Shaw, heard the commotion as the victim fought back and came to the rescue. University Police Chief Ben Lemmon says all three women deserve to be commended. “These are brave people who saw an opportunity to take control of a bad situation, and as the outcome shows, in this case it was the right thing to do,” said Lemmon.
Keller began fighting off her attacker after finding him in her car as she returned from a day of shopping. Willis and Shaw heard screams and came running. One of them called 911 on a cell phone and two university police officers responded within minutes. The alleged attacker, 39-year-old Adolph Grimmett, was arrested and is awaiting trial. His first court appearance is scheduled for 2 p.m. Tuesday, Feb. 21 before Judge Sheila McCleve at the Matheson courthouse. Grimmett is charged with aggravated kidnapping and attempted theft.
University of Utah President Bernie Machen presented the victim and her two rescuers with plaques for bravery at Tuesday’s ceremony. “The University of Utah has one of the safest campuses in the state and we are committed to taking every precaution to make sure it stays that way. Even so, we can’t prevent every transgression and we encourage everyone to take steps to protect themselves. These brave women set a good example for others who decide to learn how to prevent or stop attacks”, said Machen.
Today’s recognition is keeping with university police policy of encouraging women to know how and when to fight back when attacked. The University of Utah Department of Public Safety offers Rape Aggression Defense (RAD) courses for a fee of $25. They are open to all women 12-years or older. Trained instructors offer risk reduction and avoidance information, and realistic self-defense tactics and techniques, including hands-on defense training.
RAD is a nationally promoted program begun in light of statistics, which show women have a better chance of avoiding a sexual assault if they resist. A United States Department of Justice study shows that during a 14-year period, between 1973 and 1987, over 2.3 million women reported sexual assaults in the United States. 71% of these victims avoided being raped by taking self-protective measures.
The next classes begin at the U in the late spring, after an upgrading of the program. RAD coordinator, U police sergeant Lynn Rohland, says the department is buying new equipment and training new instructors. “It is not always the right move to fight back, but many times it can save a woman’s life. This program gives women options in the event they’re attacked. It is a choice that each woman has to make in her situation, but every woman needs to know what she can do to solve the problem she faces,” said Rohland.
Once a woman pays the $25 fee to take the course, she can return for free anytime for follow-up training or to practice techniques already learned.