D.C. Council Considers Stronger Support for Sex Assault Victims

By Tom Sherwood
|  Thursday, Dec 12, 2013  |  Updated 8:23 PM EDT
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Emotional testimony Thursday as the D.C. Council considers a bill to strengthen support for sexual assualt victims. News4's Tom Sherwood has the details.

Tom Sherwood

Emotional testimony Thursday as the D.C. Council considers a bill to strengthen support for sexual assualt victims. News4's Tom Sherwood has the details.

The D.C. Council heard emotional testimony Thursday as it considers a bill to strengthen support for sexual assault victims.

Advocates for survivors of sexual assaults packed the hearing room. The victim can too easily become the suspect or guilty party, they say.

“For somebody to undergo what happens during a sexual assault exam, you better believe something happened,” said Nikki Charles of Network for Victim Recovery DC.

Ward 6 Council member Tommy Wells is exploring a law that would require any sexual assault victim to be assigned an advocate to guide them through the justice system. Those advocates would not be forced to testify in rape cases by defense or prosecutors.

Marisa, who was raped in 2011, said her goal is for the police to always be helping victims and never victimizing them..

“I thought [the rape] was the most traumatic experience of my life, but I was wrong,” she said. “What was more traumatic was the way MPD treated me after I was raped.”

A Human Rights Watch report earlier this year said too few sex assault cases are pursued, which police and city disputed. But all agreed more could be done to help victims.

A Baltimore police captain testified an advocate plays a key role in that city.

“They're solely there to attend to the needs of a victim who is going through a life crisis, which allows the police in return to just focus on police issues.”

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