sexual assault

Investigators with the U.S. Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights are conducting interviews this week at the University of Wyoming. They’re following up on complaint filed in 2017 by a student who said her report of sexual assault to UW was not handled properly.

 

Jean Harris

  

An Attack

It was on Thanksgiving night that Eastern Shoshone member Jean Harris’ life took a terrifying turn. She had been waiting for a text from her Northern Arapaho boyfriend of over three years, asking her to come pick him up and bring him home. He’d been staying with his parents for several weeks and she missed him. She put on her clothes, re-applied her makeup and drove from her house in Lander to his parents’ house on the reservation to get him.

  

Marita Growing Thunder, 19, is sitting in the grass on a warm spring afternoon at the University of Montana campus in Missoula where she studies art. Growing up, she said, her mom was always talking about aunt Yvonne.

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.

Maggie Mullen

The University of Wyoming is the latest college to launch a new app aimed at preventing sexual assault. 

CC0 Creative Comments

Advocates for victims of domestic abuse and sexual violence are marking some big wins after this year’s legislative session. Wyoming Public Radio’s Caroline Ballard spoke with Tara Muir, the public policy director for the Wyoming Coalition Against Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault, who has been characterizing this session as "The Year of the Survivor."

Q. Quallen rock climbing
Q. Quallen

On a Sunday evening, Q. Quallen worked off some stress at the University of Wyoming rock climbing gym. The senior, double majoring in wildlife and natural resources, has had a rough past year.

“When I’m climbing, it’s like a puzzle that I have to solve,” said Quallen. “It’s the only thing that actually distracts me enough right now.”

Quallen focused on moving up the vertical wall one tiny, fake rock at a time; just his fingertips and toes making contact.

WCADVSA

A bill strengthening how stalking offenders are prosecuted and sentenced is moving through the Wyoming legislature.

 

But Tara Muir, Public Policy Director with the Wyoming Coalition Against Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault, said the bill has met debate every step of the way. She said lawmakers have been caught up on whether a prosecutor has to prove a victim suffered a substantial amount of fear. Muir added most states are moving towards an objective test that focuses on the behavior of the perpetrator.

 

Book
Caroline Ballard

What would you do if your best friend were sexually assaulted? That’s the question Casper author Kiersi Burkhart tackles in her new young adult novel Honor Code – where an allegation of sexual assault rocks “Edwards Academy,” a prestigious private high school on the East Coast. Burkhart and Wyoming Public Radio’s Caroline Ballard discussed the book and its message at her home in Casper.

Wind City Books in Casper will hold a launch party for Honor Code Saturday, March 3 at 11 a.m.

Wyoming State Legislature

Wyoming’s House of Representatives passed a bill Tuesday that would sharpen anti-stalking laws.

House Bill 8 raises the maximum penalty for misdemeanor stalking from six months to one year, with up to three years of probation. The maximum penalty for felony stalking is 10 years under existing state law.

The Eastern Shoshone tribe is moving to adopt the Violence Against Women Act in an effort to better prosecute sexual assaults of Native women from the Wind River Reservation. The hope is that the law will help overcome a jurisdiction gap between tribal and federal justice systems.

State of Wyoming

A former Cheyenne woman claims that Secretary of State Ed Murray sexually assaulted her in 1982 when they worked together at the law firm of Dray, Madison and Thomson in Cheyenne.

Maggie Mullen

For many women, getting their hair cut means going to the same stylist every six weeks for years, or even decades. In an effort to take advantage of those enduring ties, the Wyoming Coalition Against Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault is training beauticians to recognize the signs of abuse and how to help. Getting the program off the ground, however, has been slow going.

Tennessee Watson

Students walked out of class at the University of Wyoming Monday to draw attention to the administration’s handling of sexual assault. The organizers believe the school should be doing more, so they drafted a letter to UW President Laurie Nichols outlining a list of actions that should be taken to improve safety on campus.

 

This follows a recent report of sexual assault by an unknown perpetrator in a UW parking lot.

 

Darrah Perez

Half of American Indians living in native majority areas say they or a family member feel they’ve been treated unfairly by the courts, according to a new poll by NPR, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health. It’s a lack of justice that Wind River Reservation residents say they live with every day. Now the tribes are working together to solve the problem.

One morning, Northern Arapaho member Rose was sitting at the table with her 14-year-old daughter, Latoya.

No More

UW’s football game against Fresno State on Saturday, November 18, will promote the “No More” campaign, which aims to end domestic violence and sexual assault.

Tennessee Watson

The University of Wyoming Police received a report that a woman was tackled and sexually assaulted by an unknown suspect walking across the East Stadium parking lot Friday evening.

 

According to a statement issued by UW, the victim would like to remain anonymous at this time, but evidence has been collected should the victim choose to make a formal report in the future.

Tennessee Watson

Both private and public institutions are bound by federal law to respond to reports of sexual harassment and abuse. In the workplace, it’s Title 7. In educational settings, it’s Title 9. But this fall the U.S. Department of Education announced it plans to overhaul the guideline. In response, UW law students organized a panel of university administrators to discuss potential changes. A Laramie attorney — who has represented a student facing sexual misconduct violations — spoke out at the event.

University of Wyoming

#metoo started flooding social media following the news about film producer Harvey Weinstein. Now the campaign has extended beyond women in Hollywood  inspiring millions of people to speak out about their experiences with sexual harassment and assault. But what happens when students come forward at the University of Wyoming? This is the third story in a series looking at Title IX and schools responsibility to respond to sexual misconduct.

UW College of Law

From immigration policy to environmental regulations to sexual harassment, Law Week at the University of Wyoming tackles timely and contentious legal topics. Starting October 16, the week of panel discussions hosted at the College of Law is open to the public.

Cut It Out program

Last year, Illinois passed legislation that requires cosmetologists to receive domestic abuse prevention training as part of their licensing process. Many people form strong bonds with their hair stylist. Now Wyoming is interested in turning to cosmetologists for help spotting abuse in a similar way.

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.

University of Wyoming

Obama era regulations, which increased protections for campus sexual assault survivors, are in the process of being removed. The U.S. Department of Education recently announced it intends to overhaul federal Title IX guidelines regarding how schools should respond to sexual violence.

 

Google Maps. Stars added by Tennessee Watson

Natrona County, Laramie County School District #1 and Albany County Schools are all under federal investigation for their handling of sexual violence. The districts are three of 137 nationwide under review by the Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights for Title Nine compliance issues.  

Title Nine is the federal act that prohibits sex discrimination and obligates all federally funded educational institutions to protect students from gender-based violence.  

Tennessee Watson

On July 6, 2017, the University of Wyoming came under federal investigation for its handling of reports of sexual violence made last year. The student who filed the complaint with the Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights said she came forward with the hope of strengthening the university’s policies and procedures. 

Maggie Mullen / 1989

The Casper Police Department will host the second and final public panel on sexual assault Wednesday, June 21. The series began after 30 women told the Casper City Council they believed the police neglected or mishandled their cases.

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

    

    

Casper Police Department’s Facebook

UPDATE: Shortly after this story originally aired, Interim City Manager Liz Becher announced that Police Chief Jim Wetzel will no longer serve in that role. According to the press release, “the City of Casper has decided to go in a new direction in the leadership of the Casper Police department.”

National Sexual Violence Resource Center

April is Sexual Assault Awareness Month, and this year organizations across the country are focusing on the theme of “Engaging New Voices.” This is work the Wyoming Coalition Against Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault does year round. The coalition links organizations in every Wyoming county.

For example, the Community Safety Network, has for the last 35 years offered services to survivors of domestic violence and sexual violence. They operate a confidential helpline and a shelter, and they work with survivors to create safety plans.

Wikimedia Commons

A Take Back the Night candlelight vigil honoring the victims of sexual assault and domestic violence will take place 7:30 p.m. Wednesday in Prexy’s Pasture on the University of Wyoming campus. Wyoming Public Radio's Caroline Ballard sat down with Sydney Stein – a senior in the Visual Culture of Gendered Activism class that organized the event – to talk about why they put this together.

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