Kellie and Kathie Henderson revealed themselves publicly as sexual abuse victims last month with the hope that they'd inspire other people to report abuse to the authorities.
Seven weeks later, the 19-year-old twins have learned that they did what they set out to do — and thanks to Oprah Winfrey, they will do it on a national television platform next month.
Their story, first reported in a three-part series in The Wichita Eagle beginning Dec. 12, prompted new reports of sexual abuse to authorities and inspired dozens of other adult women, some of them elderly, to write or call the authorities, the Hendersons or the newspaper to say the same crimes had happened to them.
The Henderson sisters will fly to Chicago next week to tell their story again, this time in a taping with Winfrey and the 7 million viewers who regularly watch Winfrey's daytime television show.
The show will air sometime next month. Production teams for Winfrey, to prepare for that taping, visited Wichita last week and prerecorded hours of interviews with the Hendersons and the neighbors and police detectives who rescued them in 2005.
Meanwhile, the Kansas Department of Social and Rehabilitation Services received and assigned for investigation several reports in the Wichita area of cases of sexual abuse because of the story series, said Jean Hogan, director of SRS's Wichita regional office.
Hogan could not say anything specific about the cases reported. But she did say that she had double-checked with SRS staff from the Protection Report Center and Children and Family Services to see whether new cases came in, as the Hendersons had hoped.
"While we haven't had a big influx of reports, I would say that we had a few that specifically said when they reported suspected sexual abuse that they were reporting because of having read the article.
"If even one child is protected as a result, it is positive."
The Eagle's December story series, "Promise Not To Tell," described how the Henderson twins and their younger sister were sexually abused by their father and two of their brothers for about 10 years. At age 13, in March 2005, Kellie and Kathie finally confided in neighbors, who called police. The sisters regard the neighbors and the police who investigated as heroes who saved their lives; Kathie said she had contemplated suicide before their rescue.
To read the complete article, visit www.kansas.com.