TOPIC: Itasca County Attorney Accused of Sex Assault
In the third article from the Duluth News Tribune I posted at the bottom of this page, the first line reads, "The alleged victims said they had "buried" their experiences, but were inspired to come forward after two other women recently spoke to police about the conduct of Jesse Powell."
The first article says, "He’s charged with one count of disorderly conduct and three counts of 3rd degree criminal sexual conduct for forcible penetration. Two of the new victims claim Powell raped them multiple times at his office, home, and at one of their workplaces. Both say they felt they had no choice."
I was not a victim of Grand Rapids divorce attorney Jesse Robert Powell, but I do feel that I was distantly targeted. Here's the story:
After I was raped and the news broke (literally - in the media) and I came forward with my story, an attorney from Grand Rapids, Minnesota reached out to me.
His first message to me via Twitter was:
Just read an article in the newspaper about you today. I was horrified by what happened but so very impressed with your courage and strength. I was a prosecuting attorney for 4 years in Itasca County and serving victims was the best part of the job. I also read your blog. You're an incredibly talented writer. I look forward to reading more.
Since receiving this message from him, he'd intermittently reached out, and I had informally asked him a few legal questions. Truthfully, I never questioned the ethics and intent of this man, the attorney from Grand Rapids reaching out to me, supporting my cause and mission. But I guess I should have.
In the process of starting my non-profit organization, I listed him as my informal attorney to contact with questions. How ironic is that? My organization's mission is to help rebuild the lives of those affected by sexual violence (survivors, secondary victims, families of survivors, and families of incarcerated perpetrators) by providing funds and resources and raising awareness in the community. And the attorney I've been asking questions is now being accused of raping multiple women. There are allegations from FOUR women.
Jesse (ironically the most common criminal name in Minnesota; this is the alias I gave to the person that raped me in my memoir and sequel memoir) was charged in December of 2021 with criminal sexual conduct based on allegations of sexual assault from two women. Since he was charged, two more women have come forward. Now, this should not feel like pressure for people who haven't reported to report, but it does show something... Speaking out and reporting sexual assault can lead to incarceration of serial rapists... like this one. I don't want to get ahead of myself so maybe incarceration isn't the correct term to use because according to one of the articles below, he is not on the jail roster. But that's the hope for the future.
FOUR WOMEN have come forward. FOUR. Give it some time; I wonder how many more there will be. And who will the courts believe? When I say courts, I don't necessarily mean a person or group of people. It's more of... the laws, the loopholes, and the ways he may be able to finagle himself out of these charges. (Okay, maybe I don't have the best verbiage here; any of my actual attorney friends can correct me if they want. I won't be offended). What will the evidence show? What will the final outcome be? Will it be he-said vs. she-said? Will he be treated differently because he's an attorney? No worries, I will be following. And I'm sure there'll be another blog.
I’m pissed that I was targeted (again). Why would he reach out to me? Why me? As I always question, would he have reached out to me if I looked different? If I was unemployed? If I was on welfare? If I didn't write well? If I was married? I assume, as you may too, that he reached out to me based at least partly on the way I look. Fantastic. *Excuse me while I step out to get my red sparkly heals and black sparkly bat...* I guess the lioness tattoo on my arm didn't entirely deter this predator.
I’m pissed that this person I was cordial with is an accused rapist. But I do not feel like I’m a victim. I’m just pissed, mostly for the women he hurt. Being cordial did not make me become vulnerable. I did not nor would not have met with him, especially alone. But he was an attorney; it should have been safe for me to and other women to do so. The other women thought they were meeting with him safely. I did the same when I met with a divorce attorney. Thankfully my attorney was safe...
You know what this is? A perfect example of a power differential. He used his power as an attorney and used it against these vulnerable women. I’m sure what would have crossed my mind (prior to when I was raped) would have been… How could an attorney do something so unethical? Maybe this was my fault…
But it doesn’t matter what would have crossed my mind. What matters is that one woman spoke up about what happened to her, giving other women the courage to do so themselves. That is powerful. Bravo. And even if there are more women that were assaulted by this man, they don’t have to speak up if they don’t want to. But at least now they see that they are not alone.
Word on the street (speculation - is that the legal term? I don't care.) is that he was fired from the county attorney's office for sexual harassment against a few women, but no charges were brought against him, but rather swept under the rug. Why does this "sweeping under the rug" crap still happen? Why? It's 2022 for God's sake. Let's raise our voices instead of suppressing them!
What’s ironic is one of the last questions I had ever asked him in December of 2021, just over a month ago…
I had asked him if it was legal to quote the police report from my cases in my sequel memoir. His response:
Police reports are typically classified as public info once the investigation is completed.
Guess I’ll wait until he’s sentenced to write another blog about this case so I'm able to quote the police reports...
One of the morals of this story is, “Vet everyone, my dear,” said to me by one of my best friends, Jordan. Amen to that.
Okay, I'm done raging for a minute. Signing off now, wearing my red sparkly heals holding my black sparkly bat, stepping up to the plate to knock another curveball outta the park.
Danielle Louise Leukam
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