Free panel discussion on our community response to sexual assault
The League of Women Voters – Saint Paul and League of Women Voters – Dakota County are hosting a free community panel in order to bring attention to the issue of sexual assault and how it is investigated and prosecuted. This “Start by Believing” panel will address the prevalence of sexual assault in our community, the current ways in which sexual assault is investigated, and what we as a community can do to improve the criminal prosecution of sexual assault.
As outlined in the Star Tribune ”Denied Justice” series, there is a lot of work to be done. In a review of over 1,000 sexual assault cases filed around the state in a recent two-year period, the series found:
- In almost a quarter of the cases, records show, police never assigned an investigator.
- In about a third of them, the investigator never interviewed the victim.
- In half the cases, police failed to interview potential witnesses.
- Three-quarters of the cases, including those that addressed rape by strangers, were never forwarded to prosecutors for criminal charges.
- Overall, fewer than 1 in 10 reported sexual assault cases resulted in a conviction.
These findings generate questions regarding victim’s rights, community safety and police response and authority that deserve a community discussion. The panel will take place at Saint Paul Neighborhood Network (SPNN) Studios, 550 Vandalia Street #170 Saint Paul, MN 55114 on January 22, 2019 from 6:30-7:30 p.m. There will be a reception with light refreshments starting at 5:30 p.m.
The panel discussion will be moderated by Mary Rice, President of LWV Bloomington. The panelists include Jennifer Bjorhus, one of the lead journalists working on the Star Tribune's Denied Justice series; Nicole Matthews, Executive Director of the Minnesota Indian Woman’s Sexual Assault Coalition; John Choi, Ramsey County Attorney; and Paul Schnell, Inver Grove Heights Police Chief and future appointee as Commissioner of the Minnesota Department of Corrections. Questions for the panelists will be accepted in writing at the event, live on Twitter with #StartByBelievingLWV, or in advance via email to email@example.com.
Registration for the event is free, but required. Register on EventBrite now >