Woman assaulted in Seattle park feels victimized twice after story used in political campaign

Kelly Herron the day she was attacked in the women’s restroom at Golden Gardens Park on March 5, 2017.
Kelly Herron the day she was attacked in the women’s restroom at Golden Gardens Park on March 5, 2017. Kelly Herron

A woman attacked in a public restroom at a Seattle park became part of the political campaign to restrict transgender bathroom access in Washington, and she’s not happy about it.

Kelly Herron was attacked last week in Seattle’s Golden Gardens Park and suffered injuries fighting off the sexual assault. She locked her attacker in the bathroom until police arrived to arrest him.

The story of her fight went viral.

“My face is stitched, my body is bruised, but my spirit is intact,” she wrote on Instagram.

The group backing Initiative 1552, which would roll back transgender people’s access to public restrooms and other facilities, began using her story to bolster its argument and raise funds.

“Sadly, what happened to Kelly is hardly rare,” Just Want Privacy wrote. “Each week yields new stories of deviant men who found ways to access female’s vulnerable spaces in order to exploit them.

Herron objected.

“I refuse to allow anyone to use me and my horrific sexual assault to cause harm and discrimination to others,” she said in a statement Tuesday.

Just Want Privacy removed her story from its sites and issued an apology late Tuesday.

“Since many of the volunteers that comprise this campaign are themselves survivors of sexual assault, the last thing we want to do is make anyone feel exploited,” Just Want Privacy wrote.

“If our actions have inadvertently failed in this effort, we are sincerely sorry.”

Herron said she felt she had been victimized twice after her story and photo were used.

“Last week,” she wrote, “I successfully defended myself against a violent sexual assault in a public restroom at Golden Gardens Park in Seattle, yelling “not today, (expletive)!”

“But I’m more upset now than I have been all week after seeing that a political group is using my face, my name and my story to fund raise for I-1552, a ballot initiative that deliberately targets and harms transgender people — including friends whom I respect.”

The largest organized group opposed to I-1552, Washington Won’t Discriminate, reminded voters Tuesday that it’s illegal to enter a restroom or locker room to harm someone.

Craig Sailor: 253-597-8541, @crsailor