Why I Sued the City and County for Mishandling My Rape Case and What I Learned

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60 Minutes

Originally Aired
April 12, 2023

Julie Lunde Lillesaeter
Julie Lunde Lillesaeter
Documentary Filmmaker
Differ Media
Hanna Senko
Hanna Senko, MS
Independent Survivor, Writer and Advocate

I never planned to become a plaintiff in a class action lawsuit, especially against my own city and county. I wasn’t comfortable labeling myself as a survivor, let alone being solely portrayed as one in the media. My secrets, shame, and stories felt so much safer buried under the weight of each passing year despite my declining well-being. But, when I read the First Amended Class Action Complaint containing the stories and experiences of eight other survivors, everything changed.

For over ten years, I believed there was something wrong with me and something wrong with my case. It wasn’t until I learned of other survivor’s experiences that I realized there was something wrong with the system that my case fell into. It didn’t matter who assaulted me, how they assaulted me, or when they assaulted me. It didn’t matter if DNA was present or not present. None of it mattered. It wasn’t just my case that wasn’t prosecuted. I learned that 99% of all cases were not being prosecuted whether the details were very similar or drastically different. Sexual assault cases in Austin and Travis County weren’t getting prosecuted regardless of the details.  

From the beginning, I told myself that I wasn’t going to devise a plan or build out a roadmap like all my corporate training taught me. This journey was different, and I knew it. I didn’t know what I was going to learn, who I was going to meet, or where it was ultimately going to take me. What I did know, was that change was needed, and I hoped that I could help in some small way.


As a result of this webinar, participants will be better able to:

  • Identify how change can happen by following my journey from denier to survivor to activist breaking through the barriers of secrecy and shame.
  • Examine the impact, lessons learned, and aftermath of a class action lawsuit in Austin, Texas through the eyes of a survivor plaintiff. 
  • Consider various societal fabrics that affect how we heal from sexual assault.
  • Explore the meaning of accountability, leadership, and justice in the handling of sexual assault.

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