Perry Sex Abuse Survivor Shares Fight for Justice

PERRY, Iowa -- “It’s really hard when I was trying to save myself for the right person, to have that stolen from you.”

A decade after being betrayed and robbed of her innocence by a family friend, a sexual assault survivor finally gets justice.

“We have known the Parmenter family for half my life now, since I was about 12,” explains Kendra Gliem.

Her father worked with Mark Parmenter at the local grocery store in Perry and learned they both had children involved in cross-country.  The two families quickly became friends.

“We had always said that they were like our family type of thing, because we got close with their family very fast.”

But one summer, 18-year-old Eric Parmenter got too close.

“On the Fourth of July, I had not kissed anyone at that point, and he forced himself upon me and kissed me.”

Little did the 15-year-old know then, things would only escalate from there. Eric convinced Kendra to enter into a secret relationship, knowing their parents wouldn’t approve of the two dating.

“Shortly after that, in September is the first time he assaulted me.”

After they broke up, Kendra started seeing someone else and says Eric got jealous.

“He had texted me saying that he was in my hard and he had taken an entire bottle of pills and was going to kill himself.”

When she tried to help, he took advantage of her.

“I ran over there and there was a noose hanging from his ceiling.”

When Kendra didn’t agree to date him, Eric kicked the stool out from under him.

“I really tried hard to hold him up for probably 20 to 30 minutes and finally I convinced him to stay standing on that stool. Afterwards I kind of just laid down on his ground because I was tired. I couldn’t really move anymore. I remember my arms feeling really numb,” explains Kendra.

“I remember smelling alcohol on his breath.  It was like a peach schnappy kind of thing. All Iknow is if I smell it now I want to vomit. I was just so tired. I just tried to talk him down and he proceeded to assault me again because I could not fight back.”

Kendra then distanced herself from the Parmenters, using a variety of excuses when the families made plans together.

“A lot of people asked me why I didn’t just go to the police and I’m like well, who would have believed me? He’s a family friend.”

It wasn’t until she changed majors in college that Kendra knew she had to come forward.

“I got cast in this play called August: Osage County and I was cast as Jean who is a fourteen year old. In the play she gets molested by her aunt’s boyfriend. The very first day, what we were supposed to do is go around and talk about how we can relate to our character and I went ‘Oh no!’ That was my breaking point.”

So she slowly started telling her family what had happened.

“My mom, she cried a lot. She was very angry, not at me but that she hadn’t seen any signs, warning signs. My brother, same thing. He was upset because someone had hurt his sister who he looked up to, who he loves, he trusts.”

But it was her father’s reaction that surprised her most.

“That was the first time I had ever seen him get quiet. Normally he’s very vocal about how he feels. All I saw was his hands kind of tighten on the steering wheel. I apologized to him, I said ‘I’m sorry dad, I didn’t want you to be disappointed in me and I thought that you’d be mad.’ He stopped me and said you will never, ever disappoint me. I’m sad that you didn’t feel you could trust and come to me.  He said you’re my daughter and I will always love you and I will always believe you.”

Kendra’s father encouraged her to press charges. Days later they went together, with her brother, to the Perry police station. Eric Parmenter was charged with four counts of forcible rape, a class C felony.

Right before trial, the state withdrew the first two counts.

“Apparently since I told him I was uncomfortable and that I was not ready for that, they said that it wasn’t a clear ‘no’ so they had to drop those charges.”

On September 20, 2018, a Dallas County jury found Parmenter guilty of both remaining counts.

“It sucks because I want to feel relieved and I want to feel like I’ve gotten justice, but I don’t still. I still feel robbed. I can’t get that time back. A conviction is nice. But I can’t get that time back.”

At sentencing, Kendra shared how the assaults have changed her life, saying she has battled suicidal thoughts over the years.

“I got into a pretty bad car accident in May and when I woke up, for a brief second I thought, damn. Because we’re going through all this and I just want it to be done.”

In court, Eric took the opportunity to share his remorse.

“I regret any and all wrongs that I’ve done to Kendra and I hope she finds comfort in these court proceedings” said Eric Parmenter.

And pleaded for leniency.

“I feel if you look back at my last nine years of life you will see that I have improved on myself many times over and have become a better contributing member to society.”

The state recommended concurrent prison sentences.

“The defendant has little to no criminal history. He has young children. The offenses occurred within a relatively short period of time and several years ago,” declared Assistant Dallas County Attorney Erica Clark.

The judge agreed, sentencing Eric to up to ten years in prison, a lifetime of supervision and various fines.

“This conviction may be used to enhance any future convictions for any sexually predatory offense,” said Judge Gregory Hulse.

Gliem expects Eric to get out early, after serving three to four years behind bars. She’s glad he has to register as a sex offender and she can keep applying for no contact orders but says “no matter how much time he serves, it’ll never been enough to undo what he did.”  She encourages fellow survivors to speak up.

“My takeaway would be, don’t keep quiet. Be loud, in all senses of the word.”

Sexual assault survivors in need of someone who will listen are urged to call the national sexual assault hotline at 800-656-HOPE.

Eric Parmenter has filed for an appeal to the Iowa Supreme Court.