sexual violence

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It's been a month of turmoil for the Jackson Police Department. Two officers resigned in mid-August after a post about a sexual assault investigation on the department's Facebook page drew community outrage.

Just after that, an investigation by the Jackson Hole News and Guide uncovered another incident that raises questions about the culture of the department. Wyoming Public Radio's Savannah Maher spoke with the News and Guide's investigative and justice reporter Emily Mieure about what she found.

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Update 8/21/20 5:00 p.m.: According to the Jackson Hole News and Guide, the officer who wrote the blotter has resigned from the Jackson police. 

Last week, a post on the Jackson Police Department's Facebook page drew outrage, including from advocates for victims of sexual assault.

The post on the department's Facebook blotter made light of an investigation of an alleged sexual assault of a minor. The department's Facebook blotter usually uses humor to share police matters with the public. But this time much of the public felt it went too far.

A lawsuit alleging the Albany County Sheriff's Department violated a sexual assault victim's civil rights will move forward, according to a federal judge's ruling Tuesday, May 12.


April is Sexual Assault Awareness Month. While the issue has received more and more attention, sexual assault is a crime that's still chronically under-reported across the nation. Concern about how the criminal justice system will respond is one of the top reasons victims say they don't report.

Safe Project

The Me Too movement is changing the conversation about sexual violence. For some women, it's been empowering but, also, a painful reminder of buried trauma. And for some men, it's been a realization that they want to do more to change the status quo. One victim advocacy group in Wyoming wants to help men make that change by giving them better tools.

Wyoming Legislature

Every year the Wyoming Coalition Against Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault gives out what they call PEACE awards ("promoting excellence in advocacy for change and empowerment"). Back in November, they gave one out for best leadership in policymaking. It went to six Wyoming lawmakers who worked to pass six news laws to better protect victims of violence.

The Salt Lake City Police Department has criticized a landmark report released last month that found that more than 500 indigenous women have either gone missing or were murdered in 71 U.S. cities.

JASMINE BELL

Hoop Dancer Jasmine Bell of the Crow Creek Dakota Sioux tribe in South Dakota has danced for Mohamad Ali and for all the presidential first ladies. Even the actor Kevin Costner. 

Tennessee Watson


Over the last year, Wyoming Public Radio’s education reporter Tennessee Watson put together an award-winning series on sexual assault at the University of Wyoming. Watson’s conversations with students revealed confusion about the reporting process and uncertainty about the university’s willingness to take action. This spring UW conducted a campus climate survey to get a better handle on the prevalence of sexual violence and what happens in its aftermath. She sat down with UW President Laurie Nichols at her office to discuss the survey, the results and what's next.

University of Wyoming NO MORE

The #metoo movement might have given the impression that disclosures of sexual violence are more out in the open. But Matt Gray, a clinical psychology professor, says in actuality very few survivors officially report what they’ve experienced, and that’s true at the University of Wyoming as well. Tennessee Watson spoke with Professor Gray, who recently completed a campus climate survey looking at the prevalence of sexual misconduct on campus.

graphic elements from erinslaw.org with modifications by Tennessee Watson

Survivors of child sexual abuse and advocates testified before the Senate Education Committee Wednesday. They urged lawmakers to support the implementation of Erin’s Law in Wyoming. The legislation first passed in Illinois following the advocacy of survivor Erin Merryn, and has now passed in a total of 31 states.

 

Wyoming Humanities

The artwork of 31 of the Middle East's premier contemporary women artists is coming to Jackson. “I AM” is an international traveling exhibit focusing on the contributions that Middle Eastern women make to local and global culture, and movements for peace and harmony.  

It’s already made stops in Jordan, London and Washington DC, and will open at the Center for the Arts in Jackson on Friday evening.

 

Graphic by Tennessee Watson

Students are required to do fire drills and tornado drills, yet Wyoming does not require public schools to do sexual assault prevention. Young people are more likely to be impacted by sexual violence than they are by any of those dangers. Research conducted by the Centers for Disease Control estimates that approximately 1 in 6 boys and 1 in 4 girls are sexually abused before the age of 18.

 

Wyoming Sexual Violence Prevention Council

Most states have existing laws or pending legislation requiring public schools to teach sexual violence prevention. That leaves Wyoming as one of the few states with absolutely nothing on the books. The Wyoming Sexual Violence Prevention Council is working to fill that gap by supporting a growing network of local projects; among them is a program that works with K-12 student athletes.

Tennessee Watson

In August we reported on a University of Wyoming student who filed a Title IX complaint with the federal government about the handling of her sexual assault. Since then Education Secretary Betsy Devos initiated an overhaul of the Title IX guidelines, bringing concern about higher education’s handling of sexual violence to national attention.

Max Pixel freely distributed with a Creative Commons Zero - CC0.

  

When it comes to sexual assault in the U.S., the majority of victims will not make a report, and Wyoming is not much different than the rest of the country.

    

    

Albany County Sheriff Dave O’Malley has been involved in sexual assault investigations since 1974. He said he’s come across many cases where he knew a rape took place, but he wasn’t able to move forward with it

    

    

Laramie County Community College is being investigated by the U.S. Department of Education Office for Civil Rights for allegedly discriminating on the basis of sex in its response to a complaint of sexual violence. Representatives from the Office for Civil Rights were scheduled to appear on campus September 13 and 14.

Caroline Ballard

This past Sunday the White House released an ad campaign to address sexual assault on college campuses. It uses celebrities to promote speaking up if you suspect a sexual assault is in the works. But even with renewed awareness efforts, Sexual Assault remains the most underreported crime in the United States. Wyoming is no exception.

University of Wyoming police are investigating an anonymous message posted to a public Facebook page. The message directed sexually violent language toward a UW student.

UW Crushes is a page on Facebook where users can anonymously submit messages about other UW students. They’re usually vague compliments, but some are sexually explicit or use real names.