Dartmouth student wants campus carry to fend off Stalker with rape kit

It’s no joke, this young college student’s life is in danger. Yet, officials at Dartmouth College will not allow her, or any other student for that matter, to carry a firearm for self-defense.

Fox News.com published Taylor Woolrich’s open letter on Wednesday. Woolrich, who is starting her junior year at Dartmouth, shouldn’t have to justify her need to carry, but she does and she gives a very compelling reason on why carrying might just save her life.

“They discovered what police call a “rape kit,” including rope tied as slip noose, a knife, gloves, and other items,” Woolrich says of her stalker, 67-year-old Richard Bennett. “When police got the warrant, they found my pictures all over Bennett’s house as well as illegally obtained guns.”

Bennett’s a convicted felon. He’s behind bars at the movement, but that may not last long because, as the Woolrich points out, he’s hired one of the “top defense attorneys in the area.”

Here’s Woolrich’s full letter to Dartmouth Officials, courtesy of Fox News:

Over the last four years, I have lived with the constant threat from a stalker – a stalker who is now in jail for the third time for violating a restraining order.

Every day I live with these questions: What if today is the day that my stalker posts bail? What if today is the day that he discovers my parents’ new address? What if I go to a lecture on campus and he shows up there?

I feel that I have no control over my life. My family was forced to move. I have had stay indoors, keep drapes closed, avoid posting on social media sites, and even change my car. It’s almost like being held hostage.

If schools and society can’t guarantee my safety and the safety of victims like me, it’s time we have the chance to defend ourselves so we can stop living in fear.

Should myself and other female victims just have to put up with this? The answer, hopefully, is “no.” Women must be able to defend themselves. The most effective way of doing this is by using a gun. When police arrive to enforce a restraining order, it is usually too late.

I have been living such a nightmare for over four years. I was 16 and working a café in San Diego when a 67-year-old man, Richard Bennett, came in the store for coffee. He kept coming back, staring at me for long periods of time, and trying to flirt. He then would sit outside the store for the entire day.

The nightmare soon got much worse. He followed me around outside of work, demanding to talk and saying that he was “trying to protect [me],” then he began bothering my friends, security had to remove him from scholarship pageants that I participated in, and he attempted to attack my then boyfriend in high school. I was forced to take out a restraining order.

Today, Richard Bennett is facing trial for yet another restraining order violation. In June of this year, I returned home to San Diego from Dartmouth College and early the very next morning, Bennett was at my door, wanting to talk.

He was arrested and police searched his car. They discovered what police call a “rape kit,” including rope tied as slip noose, a knife, gloves, and other items. When police got the warrant, they found my pictures all over Bennett’s house as well as illegally obtained guns.

Bennett’s bond originally required him to put up $10,000 for a bondsman. This was later raised to $30,000. So far, Bennett hasn’t posted bond and is still in jail. However, he has hired one of the top defense attorneys in the area.

I thought that I would be safe when I started attending Dartmouth College on the East Coast two years ago but over the last fourteen months, Bennett has sent me multiple messages in which he promised to come all the way to Dartmouth.

Fearing for my safety, I finally contacted Dartmouth College’s Department of Safety and Security in June and asked if I could keep a permitted handgun on campus. But no luck. The advice was that I call campus security and arrange for an escort if I ever felt unsafe after dark. I was also told that there was no way to appeal this decision.

Yet, the escorts have proved to be impractical and humiliating. Campus security has told me, “you can’t keep calling us all the time.” When requesting transportation, I am grilled over whether I have a justifiable reason.

Campus security tells me that I can’t call until after 9 PM, but my stalker doesn’t really care what time of day it is.

What are women in these circumstances supposed to do? Keep themselves locked in their dorm rooms, as I have done?

Dartmouth thinks that banning weapons will keep students safe, but a gun ban isn’t going to stop the Bennetts of this world from attacking. A restraining order didn’t stop him from approaching me countless times in the three years since it was issued. Neither will Dartmouth’s gun ban.

Having a gun is by far the most effective way for victims to stop crimes. The annual National Crime Victimization Survey has shown this for over 30 years running. Because of the large strength differential between male criminals and female victims, women benefit much more than men do from having a gun or carrying a permitted, concealed handgun.

The concern that permit holders represent a danger to others is misplaced. A recent report from the Crime Prevention Research Center cites statistics from Florida and shows that from October 1, 1987 to May 31, 2014 (almost three decades), Florida has issued permits to more than 2.64 million people. These permits have been revoked for firearms-related violations at an annual rate of only 0.0002 percent. This is less than a third of the rate of firearm violations by police.

Nine states ensure that permit holders can carry concealed handguns on public university campuses. There has not been a single reported problem with a permit holder.

Gun control groups push expanded background checks for gun purchases as the solution for stalkers, but Bennett was already a convicted felon. He was banned from getting guns. California already has the background checks that President Obama is pushing, but he was still able to get guns illegally. In addition, Bennett is much larger and stronger than I am and I felt in danger even without him having a gun.

If schools and society can’t guarantee my safety and the safety of victims like me, it’s time we have the chance to defend ourselves so we can stop living in fear.

About the author: S.H. Blannelberry is the News Editor of GunsAmerica.

{ 6 comments… add one }
  • Eric November 7, 2014, 5:22 pm

    In order of importance…
    #1: This woman needs a gun. She’s asked for one, so that tells me she’s motivated to learn to use it well. Perhaps a family member or friend will help out, as well as get her trained. No one in the country has a right to prevent her from having one, at the very least, at home.
    #2: She needs to carry. Period. If she gets caught and is charged for illegal carry, she’ll receive the lesser evil of a) risking getting in trouble with the law, or b) getting raped and / or killed. If I were her, I’d be looking out for my life, period, and keeping it to myself.
    #3: She should apply for a special permit through her sherriff’s department, and this may require some formal requests to meet with some higher-up offices. If a special need is identified and accepted, such a special permit might (and should) supercede any campus “rules” that might apply.
    #4: She should continue to push relentlessly for legal carry for any woman who owns a CCW permit on campus. If nothing else, just restrict it to the female gender. This might be easier to push through than permit for everyone, although I would personally hope that such a success would eventually be applied to both genders.

    As stated above, permit holders rarely cause trouble. When I was in college, there were numerous reported rapes every year. I bought a gun for my girlfriend long before I bought one for myself. I can’t remember what the campus ruling was, but I made sure she at least had a permit (so the school couldn’t have her arrested – the worst they could do was kick her out of school). And I made sure she carried it everywhere she went, if she was outside my protection. She did. And thank God, she never had to use it.

  • Harry August 11, 2014, 5:58 pm

    Reading that article made me feel like standing up and cheering. That brave, eloquent young woman is right in every single aspect of her speech. In addition to supporting here in any way I can I would advise her, strongly, to enter politics. If not now, in the hsort 2 yeras after she graduates. We need people like here representing us. – Harry S.

  • Damon August 11, 2014, 3:37 pm

    Good for Ms. Woolrich for publicizing her issue, and shining a spotlight on the disparities extant between “policy” and “law”. As an American citizen, the 2nd Amendment guarantees Ms. Woolrich’s right to keep and bear arms. There is no minimum age requirement listed. There is no list of prohibited areas where the 2nd is voided. The fact that confusing and sometimes contradictory laws and policies have proliferated since the publishing of the Bill if Rights does not obscure the original intent. Every human being has both the right and responsibility to protect their own continued existence, and government shall not infringe upon that right, as it is a universal (or inalienable, or God-given, depending on your philosophical bent) condition of sapient beings.
    My advice to Ms. Woolrich would be to arm yourself with a suitable handgun as soon as you turn 21, and carry it when and wherever you feel it necessary. Until then, I recommend a small, sharp knife such as any of Cold Steel’s excellent punch dagger series, to be carried on your person. Since it appears the stalker is interested in rape rather than murder, if he were to act on his impulses, he would have to close with you. That’s why I recommend the punch dagger. With the t-grip in a closed fist and the blade projecting from between the fingers, it is difficult to disarm, and very effective even in untrained hands at grappling distance. I wish Ms. Woolrich the best of luck, and bad cess to the stalker.

  • Brian August 11, 2014, 9:51 am

    Doesn’t own a gun? Probably because as a law abiding member of society she wants to be above board. Some of us rebels utilize the recent improvements of concealed carry to defy unlawful prohibitions on carry and pack discreetly anyway, anywhere, every time. If a situation arises where, God forbid, deadly force is required, then let the chips fall where they may, but we will defend ourselves and our fellow citizens if necessary.
    You are out of line to refer to this young lady as you do Jo Jo. Not everyone understands the infringements on the right to keep and bear arms that have incrementally chipped away at us. Most people want to comply with the letter of the law, even if that law is wrong. She does however recognize the essentials of defending herself in this sick world where the rights of criminals supercede the rights of the victim. Only in the minds of fools can people be so concerned about an extended (not botched) execution of a murderer who tortured and buried alive his victim.

  • Jo Jo dancer August 11, 2014, 9:01 am

    I’ve been stalked for 4 years… “Do I own a gun?” “No.” Your a dumbass and you lost me at hello. If I was her I be roll’in heavy. Gun Free zone does not exist… she has a clear and present danager. However she does not own a gun.

    • jrkmt1 August 11, 2014, 1:08 pm

      JoJo – Young Miss Woolrich is only 20 years old, not legally old enough to purchase a handgun on her own. To own one it would have to be given to her as a gift. Also, as a 20 year old, most states won’t issue her a concealed carry permit, which she would need to carry on campus or anywhere else outside her residence. (Remember, the greatest majority of colleges and universities don’t allow possession of firearms on campus. This includes dormitories and other housing owning by said facility.) This is highly unfortunate as her life is definitely in danger.
      Miss Woolrich is showing great personal responsibility in trying to go through proper legal channels to secure the ability to carry and defend herself against a person larger and stronger than her. You need to reevaluate your statement.
      You also need to learn to spell. It’s you’re, the contraction for you are, not your (possessive). Rolling, when dropping the g is spelled rollin’, not roll’in, which means something else entirely.

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