Muriel Bowser Expands Rights to Sexual Assault Victims

Photo credit: Carolyn Kaster

Sexual assault in the Metro DC area is not new, however there is a heighten awareness with social media bringing the conversation to the forefront.  Issues concerning the management of sexual assault cases emerged in 2013 when Human Rights Watch accused the D.C. police of inadequate investigations, misplacing reports and archiving files without having conducted a thorough investigation.

Mayor Muriel E. Bowser will announce legislation that would improve the rights of victims of sexual assaults, mostly juveniles, and intensify what can be considered a crime during an attack.

The bill adds requirements to a sexual assault victim’s rights act passed in 2014 allowing victims a broader selection of advocates for interviews with police and prosecutors.

“I think this bill will contribute to more victims and survivors accessing help,” said Michelle Garcia, director of the D.C. Office of Victim Services and Justice Grants. “We know that when victims feel supported, they are more likely to engage with and stay engaged with the criminal justice system. . . I think it will have a big impact in a number of ways.”

There have been 67 sexual assaults reported in the District so far, this year, a 29 percent drop from the 94 reported in the same period last year.