Mayor Bowser to Expand Rights of Sexual Assault Victims, 4/13/17
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Mayor Bowser to Expand Rights of Sexual Assault Victims, 4/13/17


>>GOOD MORNING. MY NAME IS INDIRA HENARD AND I AM THE EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR OF THE
D.C. RAPE CRISIS CENTER. WELCOME, MAYOR BOWSER, DIRECTOR
GARCIA, FELLOW ADVOCATES AND MEMBERS OF THE WASHINGTON, D.C.
COMMUNITY TO THE LIGHTHOUSE CENTER FOR HEALING. IT IS SUCH AN HONOR AND A PLEASURE TO HAVE YOU ALL HERE
TODAY TO INTRODUCE THE SEXUAL ASSAULT VICTIMS RIGHTS AMENDMENT
ACT OF 2017. MAYOR BOWSER, WE THANK YOU FOR
YOUR LEADERSHIP, FOR YOUR DEDICATION AND COMMITMENT TO
VICTIMS SERVICES. YOUR SUPPORT AND VISION ENSURES
THAT VICTIM SURVIVORS REMAIN A TOP PRIORITY OF THE CITY. KNOW THAT WE STAND WITH YOU. KNOW THAT WE LOOK FORWARD TO
CONTINUING TO PARTNER WITH YOU AND COLLABORATE WITH YOU IN
RESPONDING TO THE CITY’S MOST VULNERABLE. THANK YOU.>>MAYOR: THANK YOU. THANK YOU, GOOD MORNING, EVERYBODY. [APPLAUSE] GOOD MORNING. I AM SO HAPPY TO BE HERE. LET ME THANK INDIRA FOR THAT
LOVELY INTRODUCTION, BUT ALSO FOR THE GREAT WORK THAT THE D.C.
RAPE CRISIS CENTER AND SO MANY OF OUR PROVIDERS PROVIDE TO D.C.
RESIDENTS IN SIGNIFICANT TIMES OF NEED. WE ARE HERE TO MAKE SURE THAT OUR LAWS ARE ROBUST, THAT OUR
AGENCIES ARE WORKING TOGETHER, THAT LAW ENFORCEMENT AND
COMMUNITY PROVIDERS AND VICTIMS SERVICES ORGANIZATIONS HAVE OPEN
LINES OF COMMUNICATIONS AND THAT PEOPLE IN THE DISTRICT WHO ARE
IN NEED FIND THAT THE SYSTEM WORKS TO PROVIDE JUSTICE FOR
THEM AND HEALING FOR THEM AND NOT RE-VICTIMIZATION. I AM JOINED TODAY BY MEMBERS OF MY TEAM, MICHELLE GARCIA, WHO IS
THE DIRECTOR OF THE OFFICE OF VICTIMS SERVICES AND JUSTICE
GRANTS FOR THE DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA, PETER NEWSHAM, WHO IS
OUR POLICE CHIEF, AS WELL AS OUR DEPUTY MAYOR FOR PUBLIC SAFETY
AND JUSTICE WHO IS IN THE AUDIENCE. SO BE CLEAR THAT ENSURING THE SAFETY OF EVERY WASHINGTONIAN IS
MY ADMINISTRATION’S TOP PRIORITY. AND I KNOW THAT ENSURING THE WELL-BEING OF YOUR FAMILY AND
FRIENDS IS TOP ON YOUR LIST, TOO. OVER THE PAST TWO YEARS, WE HAVE MADE SOLID PROGRESS IN REDUCING
VIOLENCE IN OUR CITY, BUT WE KNOW THAT THERE IS MORE THAT WE
CAN DO TO HELP SURVIVORS OF SEXUAL ASSAULT. AND THAT’S WHY TODAY WE ARE INTRODUCING AND WE WILL WORK
WITH THE COUNCIL TO GET PAST THE SEXUAL ASSAULT VICTIMS RIGHTS
AMENDMENT ACT OF 2017. THIS LEGISLATION WILL HELP US DO
FOUR THINGS THAT WILL PROVIDE CRITICAL SUPPORT TO VICTIMS OF
SEX CRIMES. FIRST IT WILL ENSURE THAT
VICTIMS HAVE A CERTIFIED COMMUNITY-BASED SEXUAL ASSAULT
ADVOCATE PRESENT DURING ALL LAW ENFORCEMENT INTERVIEWS. SECOND, IT WILL EXPAND THESE RIGHTS TO SERVICES TO
12-YEAR-OLDS AND OLDER. AND IT WILL ENSURE — LET ME
MAKE SURE I KNOW WHERE I AM HERE. IT WILL INCREASE THE AVAILABLE POOL OF ADVOCATES THAT WILL HELP
SURVIVORS OF SEX CRIME. AND LASTLY, IT WILL CREATE AN
INVESTIGATIVE COMMITTEE THAT WILL REVIEW SEX CRIME
COMPLAINTS. THIS WILL HELP US IDENTIFY ANY
GAPS, CHALLENGES, BARRIERS THAT EXIST THAT PREVENT SURVIVORS
FROM SEEKING AND GETTING THE TREATMENT AND HELP THAT THEY
NEED. SO WITH THAT, I WANT TO INVITE
MICHELLE GARCIA WHO IS OUR DIRECTOR OF THE OFFICE OF
VICTIMS GRANTS AND SERVICES TO SAY MORE SPECIFICALLY HOW WE
WILL GET THIS BILL IN PLACE AND MORE HELP TO OUR SURVIVORS. [APPLAUSE]>>GOOD MORNING. THANK YOU SO MUCH, MAYOR. THANK YOU FOR YOUR LEADERSHIP ON
THESE ISSUES AND ENSURING VICTIMS IN THE DISTRICT HAVE THE
RESOURCES THEY NEED. THIS PIECE OF LEGISLATION
REFLECTS OUR D.C. VALUES TO ENSURE THAT EVERY VICTIM IS
TREATED WITH DIGNITY, RESPECT AND FAIRNESS. THE SEXUAL ASSAULT VICTIMS RIGHTS AMENDMENT ACT OF 2017
BUILDS ON THE HISTORIC SAVRAA OF 2014. ONE OF THE PIECES ESTABLISHED A MULTI-DISCIPLINARY TASK FORCE TO
LOOK AT NATIONAL BEST PRACTICES AROUND RESPONDING TO SEXUAL
ASSAULT AND TO MAKE RECOMMENDATIONS AS TO HOW THE
DISTRICT COULD ENHANCE ITS RESPONSES TO SEXUAL ASSAULT
VICTIMS AND SURVIVORS. THIS LEGISLATION REFLECTS THE
HARD WORK OF THAT TASK FORCE THAT MET AND LOOKED AT THESE
ISSUES FOR OVER A YEAR AND A HALF AND RECOMMENDED A
COMPREHENSIVE SET OF LEGISLATIVE CHANGES TO AGAIN ENSURE THAT
EVERY VICTIM, EVERY SURVIVOR IS TREATED FAIRLY, HAS THEIR RIGHTS
ENSURED AND HAS ACCESS TO THE SERVICES TO ASSIST THEM IN THEIR
HEALING. THIS PIECE OF LEGISLATION WILL
ENSURE THAT THEY HAVE ADVOCATES WHO CAN SUPPORT THEM THROUGHOUT
THE SYSTEM FOR ANY VICTIM AGE 12 AND OLDER. AND THIS IS REALLY CRITICAL BECAUSE WE KNOW BOTH FROM
EXPERIENCE AND FROM THE RESEARCH THAT WHEN A CRIME VICTIM, WHEN A
SEXUAL ASSAULT VICTIM SURVIVOR FEELS SUPPORTED, HAS ACCESS TO
INFORMATION, CAN MAKE INFORMED DECISIONS ABOUT THEIR OWN PATH,
THEIR OWN HEALING AND THEIR OWN IDEA OF JUSTICE, THAT THEY ARE
MORE LIKELY TO ENGAGE WITH THE CRIMINAL JUSTICE SYSTEM AND MORE
LIKELY TO STAY ENGAGED WITH THE CRIMINAL JUSTICE SYSTEM LEADING
TO GREATER OFFENDER ACCOUNTABILITY. THIS BILL WILL ENHANCE VICTIM SAFETY AND THIS BILL WILL ALSO
INCREASE OFFENDER ACCOUNTABILITY, MAKING US A
SAFER, STRONGER DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA. WE LOOK FORWARD TO WORKING WITH OUR MANY PARTNERS WHO ARE HERE
WHO HAD KEY ROLES IN HELPING CRAFT THESE RECOMMENDATIONS. MANY OF THE ORGANIZATIONS THAT D.C. RAPE CRISIS CENTER, THE
NETWORK FOR VICTIM RECOVERY OF D.C., THE D.C. COALITION TO END
SEXUAL VIOLENCE, DAWN, MEN CAN STOP RAPE, AND MANY OTHERS WHO
PROVIDE SERVICES EVERY DAY TO SOME OF THE MOST VULNERABLE
PEOPLE IN OUR COMMUNITY. I ALSO WANT TO THANK CAPTAIN
NEWSHAM — CHIEF NEWSHAM FOR HIS LEADERSHIP IN MPD IN ENHANCING
MPD’S RESPONSE TO VICTIMS AND SURVIVORS OF SEXUAL VIOLENCE. AND WITH THAT, I WILL TURN IT OVER TO CHIEF NEWSHAM. [APPLAUSE]>>ALL RIGHT, GOOD MORNING. IT’S DEFINITELY A PLEASURE TO BE HERE. I’M GLAD TO JOIN YOU TODAY TO DISCUSS THE SEXUAL ASSAULT
VICTIMS RIGHT AMENDMENT ACT. AS YOU KNOW, APRIL IS SEXUAL
ASSAULT AWARENESS MONTH. THIS IS AN IMPORTANT TIME TO
REAFFIRM OUR FOCUS ON SURVIVORS OF SEXUAL ASSAULT AND ENSURING
OUR SURVIVORS ARE TREATED WITH CARE AND COMPASSION THROUGHOUT
THE ENTIRE CRIMINAL JUSTICE PROCESS. THIS BILL, AS YOU HAVE HEARD FROM MAYOR BOWSER AND DIRECTOR
GARCIA, DISCUSSES IMPROVED SERVICES FOR OUR SEXUAL ASSAULT
SURVIVORS. THE MOST SIGNIFICANT CHANGE IN
THE LEGISLATION IS ENSURING THAT ANY VICTIM OF A SEXUAL ASSAULT
HAS A RIGHT TO BE SUPPORTED BY AN ADVOCATE. ADVOCATES CAN BE A VITAL BRIDGE TO CONCRETE RESOURCES FOR THE
SURVIVORS AS WELL AS CRITICAL SERVICES TO SUPPORT HEALING AND
WELL-BEING. AS YOU KNOW, SEXUAL ASSAULTS ARE
FAR TOO OFTEN NOT REPORTED TO POLICE. MANY TIMES THE CASES ARE NOT REPORTED BECAUSE THE SURVIVOR
HAS NO CONFIDENCE THAT THE CRIMINAL JUSTICE SYSTEM WILL
PROVIDE THEM THE SUPPORT THEY NEED. SURVIVORS OF SEXUAL ASSAULT IN THE DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA SHOULD
FEEL CONFIDENT AND COMFORTABLE IN REPORTING CRIMES TO THE
POLICE AND ALSO KNOW THAT THE ENTIRE CRIMINAL JUSTICE SYSTEM
WILL TREAT THEM APPROPRIATELY. I BELIEVE THIS LEGISLATION TAKES
IMPORTANT STEPS IN ENSURING THAT OUR SURVIVORS OF SEXUAL ASSAULT
ARE TREATED WITH THE COMPASSION AND RESPECT THAT THEY DESERVE. NOW, I’M GOING TO CALL UP COLLEEN GALLOPIN OF THE D.C.
FORENSIC NURSE EXAMINERS WHICH IS OUR SANE PROGRAM. COLLEEN. [APPLAUSE]>>THANK YOU, CHIEF NEWSHAM. MY NAME IS COLLEEN GALLOPIN, I’M THE EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR OF THE
D.C. FORENSIC NURSE EXAMINERS. MAYOR BOWSER, IT’S AN HONOR TO
BE HERE WITH YOU TODAY SHARING MY SUPPORT AND ENDORSEMENT OF
SAVRAA 2017. I AM HERE REPRESENTING BOTH
DCFNE AND THE D.C. SANE PROGRAM WHICH IS A COLLABORATION BETWEEN
DCFNE, THE NETWORK FOR VICTIM RECOVERY OF D.C. AND THE MEDSTAR
WASHINGTON HOSPITAL CENTER. THE SANE PROGRAM PROVIDES CRISIS
SERVICES TO MORE THAN 450 SURVIVORS OF SEXUAL ASSAULT A
YEAR, A NUMBER THAT HAS GROWN EVERY YEAR SINCE THE PROGRAM WAS
CREATED. WE ARE ABLE TO OFFER THIS
SERVICE THANKS TO THE SUPPORT OF THE MAYOR’S OFFICE OF VICTIMS
SERVICES AND JUSTICE GRANTS AND THEIR COMMITMENT TO ENSURING A
CONTINUUM OF SERVICES IS AVAILABLE FOR EVERY SEXUAL
ASSAULT SURVIVOR IN THE DISTRICT. WE ARE EXCITED TO SEE CONTINUED EFFORTS TO EXPAND AND ENHANCE
THE RIGHTS OF SURVIVORS IN THE DISTRICT, IN PARTICULAR THE
EXPANSION OF THE RIGHT TO AN ADVOCATE. THE SANE PROGRAM ITSELF OFFERS A CLEAR ILLUSTRATION OF WHY SEXUAL
ASSAULT VICTIM ADVOCATES MATTER AND HOW THEY POSITIVELY IMPACT
VICTIMS EXPERIENCES. SINCE THEY BEGAN SUPPORTING THE
SANE PROGRAM WHICH PREPARES HIGHLY TRAINED FORENSIC NURSES
WITH FULL-TIME ADVOCATES THAT OFFER ONGOING CASE MANAGEMENT
AND ACCESS TO LEGAL SUPPORT, WE SEE AN INCREASE OF 466% IN THE
NUMBER OF CASES THAT CONVERT FROM THE INITIAL NON-REPORT TO A
LATER REPORT TO LAW ENFORCEMENT. THIS INCREASE IS OFTEN CREDITED
TO THE SUPPORT AND INFORMATION SURVIVORS RECEIVE FROM THEIR
ADVOCATE. WE BELIEVE THAT ADVOCATES HELP
VICTIMS UNDERSTAND AND NAVIGATE THE SOMETIMES CONFUSING CRIMINAL
JUSTICE SYSTEM. AND THE MORE THAT SURVIVORS FEEL
THEY CAN TRUST AND ENGAGE THE CRIMINAL JUSTICE PROCESS, THE
MORE WE, AS A COMMUNITY, ARE ABLE TO HOLD OFFENDERS
ACCOUNTABLE AND PREVENT FUTURE ASSAULTS. AND FOR THOSE SURVIVORS WHO CHOOSE NOT TO ENGAGE THE JUSTICE
SYSTEM, NOT YET OR EVER, THE AVAILABILITY OF CONFIDENTIAL
COMMUNITY-BASED ADVOCATES HELPS CREATE A SAFE, SUPPORTIVE
ENVIRONMENT WHERE THEY CAN PROCESS THEIR EXPERIENCES AND
CONSIDER THEIR OPTIONS AT THEIR OWN PACE. WE AT DCFNE ARE GRATEFUL FOR THE PARTNERSHIP WE HAVE AT NETWORK
FOR ADVOCATES FOR D.C. WE SEE FIRSTHAND AT EVERY EXAM
THE IMPACT THAT A KNOWLEDGEABLE SKILLED ADVOCATE CAN HAVE ON A
SURVIVOR. WITHOUT THEM, DCFNE FORENSIC
NURSES COULD NOT DO WHAT THEY DO BEST. WE LOOK FORWARD TO CONTINUING OUR SUPPORT OF ALL THE SEXUAL
ASSAULT VICTIM ADVOCATES WORKING ON BEHALF OF SURVIVORS IN THE
DISTRICT. THANK YOU. [APPLAUSE]>>MAYOR: SO I WANT TO THANK YOU
ALL FOR YOUR ADVOCACY AND CALL ON YOU AS WELL TO CONTINUE TO
HELP US GET THIS BILL THROUGH THE LEGISLATIVE PROCESS AND INTO
LAW. SO I THINK WE CAN TAKE A COUPLE
OF QUESTIONS. I’LL START WITH THE PRESS. YES.>>MAYOR BOWSER, YOU DIDN’T
MENTION IN YOUR REMARKS, BUT IN THE PRESS RELEASE IT MENTIONS
THAT PART OF THIS LEGISLATION WILL COMPEL PROSECUTORS TO
PROVIDE A RATIONALE IF THEY CHOOSE NOT TO PROSECUTE A CASE. AND I DON’T SEE ANYONE FROM THE U.S. ATTORNEY’S OFFICE HERE. ARE THEY ON BOARD WITH THIS? DID YOU CONSULT WITH THEM ABOUT
THIS? THIS HAS BEEN ONE OF THE BIGGEST
COMPLAINTS OF VICTIMS — IS THAT WHEN THE U.S. ATTORNEY DOES NOT
PROSECUTE, THEY DON’T ACTUALLY LEARN ABOUT THAT. CAN YOU TELL US HOW THIS WILL WORK?>>MAYOR: SURE.>>AND WHETHER OR NOT USAO IS ON
BOARD.>>MAYOR: IT IS TRUE. AND I’M GOING TO ASK MICHELLE AND MAYBE KEVIN DONAHUE TO BE
AVAILABLE FOR ANY KIND OF BACKGROUND ON OUR DISCUSSIONS
WITH LAW ENFORCEMENT. SO IT SHOULD BE CLEAR THAT WE
ACTUALLY WANTED TO INTRODUCE THIS LEGISLATION IN JANUARY OR
FEBRUARY, BUT THERE WERE A LOT OF DISCUSSIONS AMONG LAW
ENFORCEMENT SO THAT WE COULD GET EVERYBODY ON BOARD WITH HOW WE
ADVANCED THIS BILL. SO I’M GOING TO ASK MICHELLE TO
TALK A LITTLE BIT MORE ABOUT WHY WE FEEL STRONGLY THAT VICTIMS
DESERVE TO HEAR DIRECTLY IF A CASE IS NOT GOING TO ADVANCE OR
HOW IT’S GOING TO ADVANCE. AND WE CAN UPDATE YOU ON OUR
DISCUSSIONS. MICHELLE AND THEN KEVIN.>>THANK YOU. THIS PIECE WAS A REALLY CRITICAL
COMPONENT BECAUSE IT WAS ONE OF THE PIECES THAT VICTIMS AND
SURVIVORS MOST VOCALLY SAID THEY WANTED INCLUDED. THAT OFTEN THE LACK OF INFORMATION FROM PROSECUTORS WAS
ONE OF THE MOST DIFFICULT PIECES OF THEIR PROCESS THROUGH THE
CRIMINAL JUSTICE SYSTEM. WE CAN ACTUALLY REPORT THAT IN
PRACTICE, TO OUR KNOWLEDGE, THE U.S. ATTORNEY’S OFFICE IS
ALREADY DOING THIS. THEY ARE ALREADY INFORMING
VICTIMS SURVIVORS ABOUT REASONS WHY THEY CHOOSE NOT TO PROSECUTE
A CASE. AND THE ASSISTANT U.S. ATTORNEYS
ARE MEETING WITH THE VICTIMS AND SURVIVORS IF THEY CHOOSE TO HAVE
THOSE MEETINGS TO FURTHER EXPLAIN THIS. SO THIS WOULD BE REALLY JUST CODIFYING A PRACTICE THAT, TO
OUR UNDERSTANDING FROM THE U.S. ATTORNEY’S OFFICE, IS ALREADY
TAKING PLACE.>>AND I WOULD JUST HIGHLIGHT
COMING UP WITH THIS LEGISLATION, THIS INVOLVED HOURS OF MEETINGS
WITH ALL STAKEHOLDERS AND PARTIES INVOLVED. AND I THINK NINE TIMES OUT OF 10, WE ARE ABLE TO RESOLVE
DIFFERENCES. BUT WE HAD A CONSCIOUS EFFORT
WHERE IF THERE WERE MOMENTS OF DISAGREEMENT, WE WANT TO ALWAYS
CHOOSE THE PATH THAT WAS GOING TO BE THE MOST AGGRESSIVE IN
SUPPORTING VICTIMS. AND WE’RE PROUD OF THOSE CHOICES
THAT ARE EMBODIED I THINK IN THIS LEGISLATION.>>MAYOR: YES, MARK.>>MAYOR BOWSER, COUNCILMEMBER
CHEH HAS LEGISLATION PENDING THAT WOULD INCREASE OR EXTEND
THE STATUTE OF LIMITATIONS FOR SEXUAL ASSAULT VICTIMS. THIS IS LEGISLATION THAT WAS INTRODUCED TWO YEARS AGO. CHAIRMAN McDUFFIE NEVER CALLED IT FOR A HEARING WHEN HE WAS
CHAIR OF JUDICIARY. THE NEW CHAIR OF JUDICIARY,
COUNCILMEMBER ALLEN HAS PLEDGED TO CALL A HEARING. IS THIS LEGISLATION THAT YOU WOULD SUPPORT EXTENDING THE
STATUTE OF LIMITATIONS FOR SEX ASSAULT VICTIMS TO COME FORWARD
AND FILE A COMPLAINT?>>MAYOR: I AM NOT FAMILIAR WITH
THE LEGISLATION, MARK. BUT I WOULD DEFINITELY ENTERTAIN
IT. OBVIOUSLY, WE WANT TO PROTECT
VICTIMS AND WE KNOW THAT THERE ARE A LOT OF PHENOMENON THAT
SURROUND MEMORIES AND ALL SORTS OF THINGS THAT MAKE REPORTING
SEX CRIMES SOMETIMES EXTEND BEYOND MORE TRADITIONAL STATUTES
OF LIMITATION. SO I WOULD DEFINITELY AND OUR
AGENCIES WILL PARTICIPATE IN THAT HEARING PROCESS AND WEIGH
IN. THANK YOU, EVERYBODY.

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