April 24, 2014 Volume 35, No. 28
Legal panel discusses options for sexual assault victims
Victims of sexual assault can find it hard to tell their stories to family and friends, but it tends to get even harder when conversing about it with police, doctors and lawyers.
Four panelists talked about legal options for assault victims at a forum April 17 in Strickland Hall. They also explained and demystified the steps of the reporting process. It’s important that victims take action because the perpetrator is likely to harm someone else in the future, several said. But the reality is that most sexual assaults go unreported.
Panelists were Kayla Jackson, an intern at True North, a Columbia organization that helps sexual assault victims; Donell Young, director of MU’s student conduct office; Doug Schwandt, assistant chief of MU Police; and Steve Concannon, coordinating attorney at MU Student Legal Services. Schwandt said that, once a victim arrives at a police station to fill out forms, the person can get scared and withhold information. “It’s hard to solve issues when there is not enough background,” he said. Concannon talked about the challenge of getting victims to press charges.
Panelists also talked of the relationship between the victim and the people trying to help. Jackson said it’s important to keep a fine line between counselor and victim and not become emotionally attached to an outcome.
— JeongAn Choi