Attitude of Resilience: Sparta woman shares story overcoming sexual assault

Twenty-two-year-old Bobby Clayton is serving 46.5 years in prison

SPARTA, Wis. (WKBT) – Our homes are the place we feel the most safe — at least they are supposed to be.

A Sparta woman is sharing her story to encourage others to take home security seriously.

“I’ve been a resident of Sparta all but about seven years,” 79-year-old Sparta resident Charlotte Walters said. “If it can happen here, it can happen anywhere.”

Resilience doesn’t come without overcoming adversity.

“I went by what my dad and mom told me, and they always said ‘treat other people like you want to be treated,'” Walters said. “I think my mom and dad had a lot to do with my upbringing, because I knew I didn’t dare to do stuff that I wasn’t supposed to be doing or I’d pay for it.”

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Charlotte Walters, 79, has been living in Sparta for most of her life.

She says back then, kids got spanked a lot.

“And I got my share of spankings. But nothing compared to what this guy did to me,” Walters said.

It happened during the early hours in January of 2018.

“Around like 2:30 in the morning,” Walters said.

When Walters woke to a nightmare.

“When I first heard the crash on the door, I thought my cats had knocked something down,” she said. “And I thought ‘well, I’ll deal with that in the morning.’ Then all of a sudden, I saw a flashlight out in my kitchen and my living room area, and I said ‘WHO’S THERE?!’ Nobody answered me, and I knew I was in big trouble.”

That person who broke into her mobile home was 19-year-old Bobby Clayton.

“He came in the bedroom immediately then, because he had heard my voice, and he ripped off my pajama bottoms,” Walters said. “Of course I didn’t have shoes on. He pinned me to the floor…He was pounding with both hands and I could not reach. I had one hand over my face, so I was trying to reach with this other hand to get DNA under my fingernails because I knew I was gonna die. And he kept telling me ‘shut your mouth, or I’ll kill you!'”

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Bobby Clayton, then 19, physically and sexually assaulted Charlotte when she was 76 at the time of the incident.

Walters says Clayton threatened her with those exact words 15 times.

“I told him, I said, ‘kill me and get it over with,'” Walters said. “That’s how much it hurt.”

Clayton was assaulting Walters physically and sexually.

In a desperate attempt to survive, Walters says she kicked Clayton in the groin.

“That must’ve hurt,” Walters said. And then about that time, he ran out the back door and I thought ‘I got to get out of here.'”

Walters got dressed and ran out the back door and across the street to get help.

Clayton drove away in Walters’s car.

“He was high on drugs, he was drunk, and he had no driver’s license,” Walters said.

She says police caught up to Clayton on I-90 between Sparta and Tomah.

He eventually crashed her car near Lyndon Station.

“He showed no remorse,” Walters said. “So he gets everything he deserves.”

This month, a Monroe County judge sentenced Clayton to 46 and a half years in prison.

“I was told at court that that is the max sentence that Wisconsin gives anybody, so I got to be happy with that,” Walters said.

Walters never went to a professional to talk about the incident.

Her therapy is sharing her story, and encouraging her neighbors to secure their homes.

“I just said, ‘well, I got to get out there and help other people, and tell people what happened,” Walters said. “And that’s what I’ve done.”

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Charlotte says she never sought a professional therapist. She is instead telling others her story, and letting them know to secure their homes.

Walters has recovered from her physical injuries, but she will never forget what happened.

“It was not a fun night, that’s for sure,” Walters said.

It’s resilience that helps Walters get through her darkest memories, an attitude she carries that makes her days brighter.

“I’m alive, and I’m thankful for that,” Walters said.

Walters added extra security to her mobile home.

She also has a new car now.

Walters will turn 80 in October.