Week of October 8th
Clery data reveal more reported sex offenses at UCD
The California Aggie reported last week that Clery Act statistics for UC Davis, “which document on-campus and campus-affiliated crimes, showed a significant increase in reported sex offenses from 50 incidences in 2005 to 68 in 2006.”
Sandy Ortman, director of special program for CALCASA said the rise in sexual assaults may not be a negative sign.
Ortman said, “This isn’t necessarily a bad thing for UC Davis. The numbers are alarming and we never want to say it’s a good thing. But what I want to say is that those women on another campus probably wouldn’t have gotten help.”
On other campuses, sexual assaults often go unreported, and the increase in reported offenses is a testament to the success of UC Davis’ program, Ortman said.
In fact, CALCASA has used UC Davis as a “national beacon,” Ortman said, adding that the foundation of UC Davis’ excellent violence prevention program is commitment to the issue from the top down.
“Your chancellor has a real good understanding of the fact that sexual assault and violence against women occurs on all college campuses,” she said. “And no matter how much you want to make a place safe, it’s still a community.”
The U.S. Department of Justice’s Violence Against Women Office also believes UC Davis can be a leader in the fight against sexual assault, recently awarding the campus a grant that totals nearly $1 million to create a model program for the University of California’s 10 campuses.
U.S. Government Turns Blind Eye to Rape Victims
By Suemedha Sood, WireTap
One in three Indian women will be raped or sexually assaulted in her lifetime — a rate 3.5 times higher than any other racial groups. Many women who are raped do not have access to basic health resources in Indian country. They travel long distances to Indian Health Service (IHS) hospitals expecting to receive physical and mental health services only to find that there is no staff trained to treat sexual assault victims, says the Native American Women’s Health Education Resource Center (NAWHERC). Many can’t even get rape kits, the exams used to collect evidence after a rape. With no forensic evidence, rapists are free to rape again. This is part of the reason that the number of rapes is so high.
Indian communities need the resources to prevent rape, and they need the resources to care for a woman after she has been raped. Rape survivors face barriers at every step in getting treatment and justice. Native advocates have long sought the help of the federal government, the Indian Health Service, and local and federal law enforcement. It’s time that the United States recognizes the crisis and starts working with Indian communities to find solutions.
Actress Teri Hatcher hopes to help other child sexual abuse victims
In the October 8, 2007 issue of Newsweek, Teri Hatcher reveals her painful story of surviving sexual abuse as a child. By sharing her story, Hatcher “hopes to help other victims.”
“I tell you this story with trepidation. But my fear is far outweighed by what I know is my obligation to help other victims of sexual abuse to not feel alone. To inspire other victims to realize that their lives do not have to be paralyzed by guilt and shame; they do not have to be defined by victimhood. And to convey to each and every damaged girl or woman that it is not her fault. Unfortunately, many, many girls are victims of sexual abuse. So even as we fight evil abroad, the evil of this abuse lives on in our neighborhoods…
For me, this opportunity, this turning point, gave me a chance to face a very old but still raging fear. I can’t say that a victim of abuse is ever completely healed. But this experience allowed me the space to feel validated, vindicated and, frankly, not crazy. It was not my fault. If this has happened to you, you may want to contact the Rape, Abuse and Incest National Network at rainn.org. I wish you strength and love, and a journey that leads to your own realization that you are lovable, worthy and deserve good things. If it hasn’t happened to you, count your blessings and do something in your community to make sure it doesn’t happen to anyone you know.”
The full column is available here.
Ordinance would restrict where sex offenders could go
Brain Eckhouse, from The Californian Times, reported last week that a “proposed ordinance favored by the City Council would prohibit sex offenders from being within 500 feet of parks, beaches and bus stops. The ordinance would further restrict how close a sex offender could live — and visit — to these public places. The council members, who backed the ordinance during their initial consideration, are expected to approve it Oct. 17, which would make it law 30 days later.”
Jessica’s Law, an initiative passed by state voters last November, restricted paroled sex offenders from living within 2,000 feet of schools and parks. But the state law, said Canyon Lake City Councilman John Zaitz, is an umbrella measure that allows for greater restrictions by municipalities.
State Supreme Court halts Jessica’s Law for four sex offenders
The Associated Press reported last week that “the state Supreme Court on Wednesday blocked the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation from revoking the parole of four recently released sex offenders who are illegally living too close to schools and parks. In a one-paragraph order, the court said it will consider whether Jessica’s Law violates the parolees’ constitutional rights.”
The state still plans to immediately start revoking parole for violators unless it is blocked by another court order, said Bill Maile, a spokesman for the department and Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger. Maile said, “We intend to move forward on implementation with all other offenders subject to the law.”
Attorneys for the four parolees argue that the law punishes sex offenders after they have already paid for their crime by serving prison time. They allege the law is unconstitutionally vague and imposes unreasonable conditions on parole. It could also force offenders underground because they can’t find housing that fits the strict rules under the law, said Specter, one of the attorneys who won the injunction Wednesday.
“It will cause more problems than it will solve,” Specter said. “It makes them homeless in many counties. It’s irrational in that it doesn’t prevent them from going near these places (schools and parks) – they just can’t sleep there.”
The Supreme Court gave the parolees’ attorneys until Oct 31st to respond and ordered the state to file its objects by Oct 24th. The court could then issue a ruling on whether Jessica’s Law is constitutional.
State defies high court over sex offenders
The LA Times reported on last week that “Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger and corrections officials Thursday defiantly began sending hundreds of freed sex offenders back to prison for violating strict residency requirements imposed by voters last year.”
The California Supreme Court late Wednesday temporarily blocked the state from arresting four sex offenders who went to court in an effort to avert arrest under what is commonly known as Jessica’s Law, which decrees that they must live more than 2,000 feet from schools, parks and other areas where children gather.
Schwarzenegger said the order would not halt the arrests of 850 other convicted sex offenders who have not complied with the residency rules. “My administration will vigorously defend against challenges to Jessica’s Law and protect the will of the people. I am disappointed with the court’s order, but remain committed to the full implementation of Jessica’s Law, the governor said in a statement. I have directed my administration [to] put every available resource into enforcement.”