A man was arrested for allegedly breaking into a Sioux Falls women’s shelter and raping a woman he knew who was seeking protection there.
Police arrested 47-year-old Heath Bigeagle under the suspicion that he entered My Sister Friends House shelter through a window around 3 a.m. on Monday, KSFY reports. He assaulted a woman that he knew and then left through the same window. A baby was sleeping in the room at the time of the attack.
Police caught up with Bigeagle later that morning at his home. He was charged with second-degree rape, first degree burglary, and a protection order violation.
While the victim had a protection order against Bigeagle, the shelter’s security was clearly not enough to protect her.
"Protection orders are a wonderful tool. They really do, they can help a lot. If a person has a protection order against their abuser and that person violates that, that person can immediately be arrested," said Amy Carter, operations director of another local shelter, Children’s Inn.
"We don't want women to think it's a false sense of security, it's a step in the right direction of being safe. It's one more tool in their tool kit to keep them safe," Carter added.
Cater explained that "abusers, when they have nothing left to lose they'll do just about anything sometimes."
My Sister Friends House executive director Lisa Heth issued a statement about the attack.
“We cannot comment on an ongoing investigation. However, this kind of horrific crime is an extremely rare occurrence at a shelter dedicated to providing safety and support to victims of domestic and sexual violence,” Heth wrote.
Heth noted the ongoing need for confidentiality to protect the victims of domestic violence, so their batterers aren’t able to seek them out and continue to abuse them.
“No one program or agency can provide safety 100% of the time, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. We ask for the support and commitment of all community members to end violence against all women and children, as well as men who are victims of domestic and sexual violence.”