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“We’re so thankful that she told us,” Woman with special needs healing after assault

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WEATHERFORD, Okla. -- A family is focusing on healing after their daughter with special needs was assaulted by a supervisor.

"We're so thankful that she told us instead of waiting months or possibly years," says Lezley Bell.

Bell says her 22-year-old daughter, who has been diagnosed with autism, was working at a sheltered workshop that hires people with special needs.

In August of 2015, her supervisor, Raymond Kionute, sexually assaulted her.

"We aren't sure...all that he has done to her because she can't verbalize really what happened," says Bell.

According to District Attorney Angela Marsee, Kionute pleaded guilty to three counts of sexual abuse in February. He was sentenced in June to 10 years behind bars, plus five years of probation.

NewsChannel 4 met with the Bell family on Friday.

They say the focus is now on healing and moving forward past Kionute's crime.

According to Lezley, her daughter was always happy and loving until the incident slowly turned her despondent. However, a service dog named 'Dory' purchased with the community's help has changed her life.

"When we got Dory, Breanne was sleeping with us and then about two or three weeks after we got Dory, she said 'Can Dory sleep with me?" explains Lezley.

While healing will be a daily effort, Lezley says she hopes their story will encourage parents of children with special needs to be more open and speak up.

"We want to empower people to be brave and speak up," says Lezley. "With people who are so vulnerable and trusting and such a rule follower like Breanne, you still got to have that open candid conversation."

The family has scheduled an awareness event at Rader Park in Weatherford on Sept. 23. They have also created a Facebook page for support.