Man allegedly rapes woman at Sioux Falls women's shelter - KSFY News - Sioux Falls, SD News, Weather, Sports

Man allegedly rapes woman at Sioux Falls women's shelter

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Sioux Falls Police arrested a man it believes broke into a local women's shelter and raped a woman.

Public Information Officer Sam Clemens said Heath Bigeagle, 47, allegedly entered the shelter through a window sometime between 3 a.m. and 4 a.m. Monday.  He attacked the woman while a baby slept in the same room.  The victim knew her attacker. Bigeagle left through the same window and was caught later that morning at a home in the 200 block of S. Summit Avenue.

Bigeagle is charged with second degree rape, first degree burglary, and a protection order violation.

KSFY News spoke with another shelter in town to find out the steps women and domestic abuse shelters may take to keep safe.

The rape didn't happen at Children's Inn, but KSFY News asked them if protection orders offer just a false sense of security.

It was early Monday morning when Bigeagle allegedly attacked a woman while she slept at a Sioux Falls shelter called My Sister Friends House. 

Children's Inn operations director Amy Carter said "abusers, when they have nothing left to lose they'll do just about anything sometimes."

Carter tells us there are different ways to help women feel secure. One of the first steps may be a protection order.

"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," Carter said.

"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.

Seeking shelter from abuse is another.

"Women who are abused, there's so many factors that go into it when they make that choice to leave. They have to give up so many things. They're giving up their financial security a lot of times. They're often times losing friends or family, and they may even have to leave their children," Carter said.

And at Children's Inn, its sign out front tells its mission.

"Safety is our number one priority. When people come to Children's Inn, whether they're staying with us or just coming to talk with somebody. We talk a lot about safety planning, how can we keep you safe, whether you're staying with us or not," Carter said.

My Sister Friends House executive director Lisa Heth, released a statement in reaction to the attack that happened there.

The full statement from My Sister Friends House may be found below.
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