Jennie Schmidt says her rights as a victim of a violent crime were violated.
She hopes to have a chance later today to tell that to a Jefferson County judge.
Schmidt's estranged husband, Chris Schmidt, was arrested for sexually assaulting Jennie Schmidt last May following an incident at their former Perry home. He was charged with rape, sodomy, kidnapping and some misdemeanors.
In a plea bargain last fall, Jefferson County Attorney Mike Hayes reduced the charges to one count of aggravated battery and a misdemeanor charge of criminal damage to property. Chris Schmidt pleaded no contest to those charges and will be sentenced this afternoon by Jefferson County Judge Gary Nafziger.
Jennie Schmidt said she was not told by Hayes about the plea bargain until she made her own inquiries by letter. In fact, Schmidt said, Hayes has never talked to her in person about the case, despite repeated requests.
"I was never involved in any of it," Jennie Schmidt said. "Never, ever has he talked to me."
Jennie Schmidt said she was told via letter from Hayes that the original charges would be difficult to prove, based on his experience as a Jefferson County prosecutor. He said she voluntarily consumed alcohol and voluntarily took her clothes off, and that she had no physical injuries from the incident.
Jennie Schmidt was incredulous, noting her estranged husband ripped off some of her clothes and she removed the rest, out of fear. "For him to say that there is no evidence to support (her charges), he's just blind," she said.
A Lawrence hospital clinical note possessed by Schmidt lists pictures of her injuries taken by the Jefferson County Sheriff's Office and other evidence of physical injuries.
Sheriff's Detective Kirk Vernon, who investigated Schmidt's case, said he has talked with Hayes at length numerous times about the case.
"I'm fully convinced Mr. Hayes understands all the facts of the case," Vernon said. "That would be up to Mr. Hayes to explain or not explain reasons for doing what he's done."
Hayes didn't return a phone message left for him Wednesday afternoon. An employee in his office said not to expect a return call because Hayes doesn't discuss cases with the media.
On May 19, Jennie Schmidt agreed to meet with Chris Schmidt and a real estate agent at their former house, which was up for sale. Jennie Schmidt signed some papers. The agent left. Jennie Schmidt said she stayed at Chris' request to talk about their three young children. They each started drinking a beer out on the porch, a beer she said she didn't finish. She said she became uncomfortable with the conversation and started to leave. That's when Chris Schmidt forced her into the house and into the bedroom. She said she was raped and a rope was wrapped around her neck.
After the attack, Jennie Schmidt said it appeared Chris Schmidt was going to allow her to leave but attacked her again as she tried to get away in a truck. She said she fought and screamed and ended up being strapped to the bed where she was assaulted again. She said Chris also talked about killing her and himself.
"I was in fear of my life," she said.
Jennie Schmidt said she was able to call some friends, and she talked Chris Schmidt into allowing her to drive them both to Lawrence Memorial Hospital. Jennie Schmidt met her friends there and police were called.
After learning about the plea bargain and receiving Hayes' letters, Jennie Schmidt called the Kansas Attorney General's Office and complained about Hayes' handling of the case. She talked several times with Dorothy Stucky-Halley, the office's statewide victim's rights coordinator.
"We take these complaints very seriously and we did follow up on them with the Jefferson County attorney," said Frances Gorman, spokeswoman for the attorney general. "We didn't determine that further action from our office was needed. We have to be invited, and we have not received an invitation in the case."
Typically, the attorney general can't assist or take over a case unless requested, or unless there is malfeasance involved or a public official is being harmful or contrary to law.
This isn't the first time victims have complained about how Hayes has treated them.
In a 2006 Journal-World story, another woman, Tara Balch, complained about how she was treated by Hayes after she was battered by her then-boyfriend.
"It was a full-out beating," she said then. "I was literally and legitimately scared for my life."
Balch was upset when Hayes gave her boyfriend a chance to apply for diversion and have the charges dropped.
"The prosecuting attorney seemed to think that it was two drunken people hitting each other," Balch told the Journal-World. "He told me he was dropping charges, and I began to cry. . .. He said this was his policy - to drop charges on the first offense."
Hayes also declined at the time to discuss that case.