Fighting for yoURself is worth it: Report. Report. Report.

09/09/2016 05:35 pm ET

My initial piece “There’s a Brock Turner in all o(UR) lives” focused on how we respond when we learn about the Brock Turner’s in our life. I also touched on how I believe the University of Richmond mishandled my case when I reported my rape. There was, simultaneously, an outpouring of support for me and anger for Richmond.

The University of Richmond responded to my post.

“...We think it is important for us to share that many of the assertions of fact are inaccurate and do not reflect the manner in which reports of sexual misconduct have been investigated and adjudicated at the University.

As a result, I published the receipts.

I know students at Richmond are worried about reporting. At last night’s “It Ends Now” event, Westhampton College Dean Mia Reinoso Genoni even said, “she would not come forward: “If we had a campus, where anybody, especially somebody in authority, could say ‘Oh it’s totally reasonable in this situation to give him four more seconds to finish’ — or any variation of that — if we let that happen, I wouldn’t report.”

But not reporting isnt the answer. We must continue reporting. We must take a stand to end sexual assault and relationship violence.

I understand if you do not want to report to the University of Richmond and Title IX. But there are options. I spoke with URPD Chief Dave McCoy on what we can do to ensure that the administration’s handling of my case and response to my speaking out publicly does not deter students from reporting. Here they are:

HOW TO REPORT

If you have been the victim of a sexual assault, you are not alone and we encourage you along with an advocate of your choice to report to the UR Police. You have the right to participate or decline to participate in a criminal investigation.

Reporting an assault to URPD is the first step of the criminal process. If an individual is assaulted outside of campus URPD will assist a victim and connect that individual to the appropriate law enforcement jurisdiction.

The report to URPD is a document of fact, not a commitment to move forward with a criminal prosecution. At this time an individual may ask or be provided information to be better educated with the legal process.

Reporting of certain crimes may open the door to the Commonwealths victim/witness services to include possible compensation for certain crimes.

For example:

The crime of rape does not have a statute of limitation which means the report and any evidence retained at or near the time of the criminal act can be brought forward 10 years later as an example to prosecute a case.

The act of dating violence may include a series of simple assaults. The crime of simple assault has a (1) year statute of limitations. So once that expires we are back to square one.

URPD follows the Code of Virginia and the circumstances or elements of the crime dictate the classification. Sexual assault can comprise a wide scope of criminal acts.

EVIDENCE

One of the keys to successful prosecution is the preservation of evidence. Clothing, sheets, e-conversations and messages, photographs of the scene, photographs of any injuries regardless of how minor it may appear, are items that need to be collected. URPD recommends that we be called to collect that type of evidence and store that evidence in our property and evidence section. That relieves the victim of any issues with storage and creates a cleaner chain of custody.

Again, the collection of evidence does not mandate the victim to prosecute the case. It does build a solid foundation if a decision is made at a later time.

Last year URPD Chief Dave McCoy sat on the Governor’s Task Force as it related to Physical Evidence Recovery Kit (PERK) out of that came successful legislation to extend the retention timeframe for anonymous kits to two years and 10 years for law enforcement jurisdictions. (The current federal bill approved by congress moves it to 20 years for federal cases). Meeting with law enforcement or a forensic nurse to explain what a PERK is? who is qualified to conduct a PERK? when should a PERK be completed? and why it is of value in a criminal case is an important educations step.

MEDICAL CARE

A victim can go to St. Mary’s Hospital or other local hospitals for medical care. A trained Forensic Nurse is available to conduct a Physical Evidence Recovery Kit (P.E.R.K. exam). This special exam is given to individuals who have been sexually assaulted to collect evidence that may be helpful in the investigation and prosecution of the sexual assault, if a victim/survivor chooses to do so. A P.E.R.K. is provided at no cost, and the university police will provide transportation to and from the hospital if needed. A victim also has the right to complete an anonymous P.E.R.K.

To reach a forensic nurse call: St. Mary’s E.R. (804) 281-8184 (emergency) or Non-Emergency (804) 281-8574.

PROSECUTION

URPD notifies the appropriate Office of the Commonwealth Attorney (Richmond/Henrico) based on the location of the incident within 48 hours of the incident being reported to URPD. If a police report is taken, the Commonwealth Attorney is briefed on a regular basis as to the status of the case.

If a police report is not taken, there is no further contact with the Commonwealth Attorney.

URPD presents the case to the Commonwealth Attorney. It is common for the C.A. to meet with the victim and detective prior to making a determination to move forward with the case.

Criminal prosecution of a sexual assault case poses challenges to a victim in many ways due to the high standard needed to find guilt. The last phase may be a jury of peers or a Judge making a determination of everything presented before them.

If you have general questions about the criminal justice process, even if you are not ready to report, you may contact Cynthia Micklem, Assistant Commonwealth’s Attorney for the City of Richmond, at (804) 646-8685 or e-mail Cynthia.Micklem@richmondgov.edu

Contacting UPRD

If you have further questions regarding the reporting process as it pertains to the police, feel free to reach out via e-mail, by calling the non-emergency number, or by stopping by their offices in the Special Programs building.

Emergency Number: 804-289-8911

Non-Emergency Number: 804-289-8715

Off-Campus Emergency: 911

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