MASON CITY | A woman dabbed yellow paint onto a red T-shirt as she sat at a table in a vacant storefront at Willowbrook Mall in Mason City Wednesday afternoon.
It’s the fifth year she’s attended The Clothesline Project, an annual event hosted by the North Iowa Domestic & Sexual Abuse Community Coalition and Crisis Intervention Service, aimed at honoring victims and survivors of sexual violence.
“I like to paint, so it’s kind of healing,” she said.
And for each year the woman, who is not being named because the Globe Gazette doesn’t identify sexual assault victims, has attended the event, she has a T-shirt symbolizing her journey through the healing process.
“I’m in a much better place than I was, but there are still steps to be taken,” she said.
The woman said she was sexually assaulted in college nearly 20 years ago, an act that left her “living this hollow existence for a really long time.”
Her parents, she said, are the reason it took her so long to talk about it.
“They had this view that bad things happen to people who deserve it, so I was worried about what people would think,” she said, adding her parents still aren’t aware of the assault.
It wasn’t until six years ago that she opened up to a friend about the assault and the women later attended The Clothesline Project.
“This is more like me focusing on how far I’ve come versus where I was,” she said as she completed the wording on her shirt.
This year’s shirt, as in years’ past, shares a healing and hopeful message, “My pain my life a mess. I am making it my message.”
As part of the event, community members as well as survivors of violence and their friends and family were invited to paint T-shirts, pick up informational brochures and purchase a slice of a “End Victim Blaming” cake for a freewill donation.
Shannon Roberts, a Crisis Intervention Service sexual assault advocate in Cerro Gordo County, said the event raises awareness about intimate violence and provides “a creative outlet” for survivors to heal.
Last year, 20 shirts were painted, but she said that represents a “very, very small portion” of those impacted by sexual violence.
“There’s way more than we could imagine,” Roberts said. “You have to figure the people who don’t come forward, that don’t report it, that don’t seek help. There are people who wait years or decades before they tell anybody. It’s a very, very small portion just in our county alone (who have come forward)."
Crisis Intervention Service provides free and confidential services within 15 counties in North Central Iowa, including Butler, Cerro Gordo, Floyd, Franklin, Grundy, Hamilton, Hancock, Hardin, Humboldt, Kossuth, Mitchell, Webster, Winnebago, Worth and Wright.
Roberts said the shirts are made by those “who may be farther along in their healing process” and “able to express themselves about it.”
“If you look at some of the messages the T-shirts say, some of them are extremely powerful and that takes a lot for a person to be able to express that in such a visual way,” she said.
Shirts decorated with puffy paint, fabric makers and paint from the past were displayed on the clothesline.
After The Clothesline Project, law enforcement escorted survivors and supporters carrying signs to raise awareness about sexual assault for the annual Take Back the Night walk along Highway 18. April is Sexual Assault Awareness Month.
If there’s one thing Roberts wants victims of sexual violence to know, it’s that Crisis Intervention Service and its advocates are here to help.
“It doesn’t matter the circumstance of how it happened. It doesn’t matter who you are, what your reputation was, any of that. It’s not your fault, and we do believe you,” she said. “I think that’s the strongest message we have.”
Crisis Intervention Service has a 24-hour hotline: 641-424-9133.
MASON CITY | Mason City police are asking for the public’s help locating three wanted men believed to be in the North Iowa area.
The wanted men are:
• Lucas Lloyd Heilskov, 35. Heilskov is wanted for three active arrest warrants for probation violation in numerous alleged controlled substance cases, operation without owner’s consent and driving violations. Upon arrest, he will be held on a $15,000 cash bond in his name.
• Matthew Stephen Lowe, 26. Lowe is wanted for two active warrants for violation of drug court and a probation violation in an alleged driving and controlled substance case. He will be held on a $7,000 cash or surety bond following arrest.
• Troy Jayson O’Rourke, 45. O’Rourke is wanted for two active arrest warrants for first degree burglary and domestic abuse assault - third of subsequent offense. His total bond upon arrest with be $30,000 cash only.
Anyone with information regarding the men should contact local law enforcement. People should not approach or confront them in case they are armed, Mason City Police Capt. Mike McKelvey warned the public in a news release.
Heilskov and Lowe’s warrants have been out for several months or more while O’Rourke's is new, according to police.
“We believe all three subjects are aware of the arrest warrants and are actively trying to evade arrest,” McKelvey said in a statement.
To report information on the wanted men, call the Mason City Police Department at 641-421-3636 or Crime Stoppers at 800-383-0088.
DES MOINES (AP) — An agency director fired by Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds harassed female subordinates for years by making crude sexual comments and pressuring one to go into his hotel room during work travel, according to a graphic complaint released Thursday.
After keeping the document secret for a month, the governor released a March 21 letter that detailed allegations against Iowa Finance Authority Director Dave Jamison and pleaded for her help stopping him.
Reynolds fired Jamison on March 24 for what she called "credible" sexual harassment allegations, the day after her staff learned of them. But she had refused to provide further information about the conduct of Jamison, long one of her closest political allies.
"This letter outlines disgusting and abhorrent behavior from David Jamison," Reynolds said Thursday after releasing the letter in response to open records requests.
The woman wrote that Jamison has "been sexually harassing me and others in the office for years" through remarks about his sexual history, questions about their sex lives, comments about their bodies, and constant sexual innuendo.
The woman said Jamison repeatedly tried to get her to go into his hotel room during two trips, and once rubbed her neck during a seven-hour car ride while asking her questions about her sexual past. He often asked female coworkers to go drinking with him, and his behavior got worse when he was intoxicated, she wrote.
"I am terrified about coming forward, but his behavior is escalating and has to stop," she wrote. "It is not safe for women to be around him."
The woman said she was reporting the behavior directly to the governor because she worried that Jamison would be cleared or she would be fired if she went through normal channels.
"I know you're friends with Dave and I hate to put this on your shoulders, but I just can't take it anymore," she wrote. "Please help me or tell me who to go to."
Jamison, 60, hasn't returned messages seeking comment.
The woman's attorney, Paige Fiedler, said her client took a "huge risk" in coming forward and was grateful that Reynolds believed her allegations and terminated Jamison. But she questioned why Reynolds didn't order the state to investigate the extent of Jamison's behavior and wondered who was aware of it and why it wasn't reported earlier.
"None of that happened, which is unusual," she said. "There are lessons to be learned regardless of getting rid of the perpetrator."
Fiedler said her client hasn't decided whether to pursue legal action.
The governor released the complaint amid mounting pressure to do so. Last week, her office told The Associated Press that no such records existed. Reynolds then acknowledged Monday that there was a complaint but said it was being withheld in order to protect the identity of Jamison's victims. AP appealed that denial, prompting Thursday's release of the three-page letter with minor redactions.
Fiedler said at least one other employee made verbal allegations against Jamison to the governor's office.
Reynolds and Jamison had a 20-year working relationship dating back to when they were leaders of the Iowa State County Treasurers Association. The two were on the statewide GOP ticket in 2010, when Reynolds was elected lieutenant governor and Jamison lost the state treasurer race. Then-Gov. Terry Branstad named Jamison to lead IFA in 2011.
Reynolds has said the case demonstrates a zero-tolerance policy toward sexual harassment. She ordered Jamison's firing before any investigation into the allegations or speaking with him.
Critics had accused the governor of improperly hiding details of how Jamison allegedly abused his $130,000-annual position running an agency that promotes home ownership and finances municipal infrastructure projects. In an editorial Wednesday, the Quad-City Times newspaper said Reynolds was "running roughshod over every basic tenet of open government" for political reasons.
The woman said in the complaint that weeks after she started work, the married Jamison started telling her about "how his wife never has sex with him." He allegedly told the woman that he frequented massage parlors for the "happy endings" and that employees told him how large his genitals were.
Jamison often tried to look down her shirt, so she started limiting what she wore to work to discourage the behavior, she wrote. During one trip, Jamison allegedly kept asking if her breasts were real and gestured across the bar "to get me to pull my shirt open and show him." He would ask her questions about sexual positions and her partners and make sexual gestures with his fingers, she wrote.
"I bet you're so dirty," he allegedly told the woman.
He also mocked a sexual harassment training video that employees watched and made light of the #MeToo movement, once joking that he had hired "the law firm of Lauer, Weinstein, and Franken" to represent him, referring to celebrities accused of sexual misconduct, the complaint alleged. When an agency administrator reprimanded him for inappropriate comments, Jamison appeared to threaten retaliation by saying, "You must be allergic to a paycheck," the complaint said.