Man sentenced for assault; victim speaks in court

July 29, 2017 GMT

A former Ellensburg resident pleaded guilty to fourth-degree assault with a sexual motivation Friday in Kittitas County Superior Court.

Kenny Tran, 20, faced charges of third-degree rape, but took a plea deal to fourth-degree assault with a sexual motivation. Fourth-degree assault is a gross misdemeanor. Yakima Superior Court Judge Kevin Naught sentenced Tran to 364 days in jail with 334 days suspended. He will also have to undergo a psycho-sexual evaluation.

Tran had sexual relations without consent with a woman in his residence hall on Oct. 20, 2016, at Central Washington University.

The victim spoke during Tran’s sentencing on Friday and described the experience of attempting to recover after what happened. She suffered from stress, has been terrified to go outside and has trouble sleeping.

“I was afraid to close my eyes because when I did, I would see terrors of the assault,” she said. “Bits and pieces of the event would flash into my mind causing me to avoid sleep. It became very evident that my reality was just as bad as my dreams.”

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Her ability to receive an education in particular suffered by having to attend legal proceedings. She had trouble focusing in class and everything else felt unimportant compared to the trauma she went through.

“Every day there is always a reminder of what happened,” she said. “I smell a cologne that was similar to the one he had drenched his room with and it forces me back. I hear a name similar to his and it forces me back.”

She said it was difficult to realize how much she suffered until she went to see a counselor. Instead of dealing with the emotions boiling inside of herself she had put on a mask and pretended to walk through life.

“My innocence was ripped away from me and I was left to sew myself back together,” she said. “I was unable to truly enjoy my life. I did not laugh and truly feel the humor. I did not smile and truly feel the happiness.”

The victim thanked the prosecution for working to find Tran guilty for his crimes. She said she hoped he remembered what he did and carried the burden of his actions for the rest of his life.

“Absolutely no one has the right to take away anything from another person,” she said. “And that is what he did. He stole a piece of me that I will never be able to get back.”

The Daily Record does not identify victims of sexual assault.

Naught thanked the victim for her testimony and recognized that it must have been difficult for her to come and read it in court.

“I acknowledge your suffering and I want you to know I also acknowledge your courage this day,” he said. “I can’t imagine what it is like to be here to read that statement and I want you to know that I found it very heartfelt and moving and I appreciate it.”

Tran’s defense attorney Myles Johnson spoke during the trial about his client and the growth he has seen in him since the incident.

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“It has been a privilege for me to represent Mr. Tran. This has been a difficult case for him as well,” Myles said. “I understand that the plea agreement will inflict 30 days of jail time. But the pain and consequence of having to accept this plea will go far longer, deeper and wider than that.”

Tran has since been expelled from school and lost his scholarship to Central Washington University, he said. He has had to move back home and has been dealing with emotional issues himself and gone to counseling.

“I have talked to him a lot about the consequences of his actions,” Johnson said.

Johnson said Tran would be able to redeem himself of his actions and was a good candidate for the mercy of the court.

“I want the court to know he is a fine young man and a good young man,” Johnson said. “He has learned a great deal from this whole experience.”

Tran did not elect to speak in court.