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Kearney S.A.F.E. Center to receive $10,000 donation

The S.A.F.E. Center is a resource for survivors of violence and trauma, including sex trafficking. (NTV/Ifesinachi Egbosimba)

The Kearney S.A.F.E. Center will receive $10,000 to help with services for those affected by domestic and sexual violence, thanks to a donation from a Kearney woman.

The S.A.F.E. Center, located at 620 E 25th St., provides 24-hour services to victims with their emergency shelter, counseling and support groups.

Leola Ward recently won a $10,000 settlement in civil court after accusing Kearney businessman Stephen O'Brien of sexually assaulting her on Dec. 2, 2015.

According to court documents, Ward was working as an assistant at O'Brien, Staatmann, Redinger Funeral Home in Kearney when O'Brien made sexual advances, including unwanted touching.

O'Brien admitted touching her inappropriately, and managers at the funeral home said they changed the locks at the business and required prior approval for him to return after the incident was reported.

O'Brien sold his stake the funeral home in 2011, but stayed on as a part-time employee until the incident.

A jury reached a verdict in the case, awarding Ward the $10,000 on Tuesday.

"I am donating proceeds of my lawsuit to the Kearney S.A.F.E. Center to protect other women like me who are victims of sexual assault at the hands of men that appear more powerful than their victims," Ward said in a written statement.

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