RICHMOND, Va. (WAVY) – Delegate Eileen Filler-Corn (D-Springfield) introduced HB 1343 Monday. This is legislation requiring the reporting of campus sexual assaults by campus and local law enforcement to the local Commonwealth’s Attorney within 48 hours of the reported incident.
In November, 10 On Your Side’s Andy Fox reported on inconsistent reporting of sexual assaults when left to college campus police.
Newport News resident Susan Russell, whose daughter was raped while at the University of Virginia, said, “When my daughter went to the dean, the dean sent her away and told her to ‘go home and think about this; be sure you want to ruin this man’s career.'”
Russell applauds the effort by delegate Filler-Corn to better the reporting of sexual assaults on college campuses.
If passed, the legislation will expedite an investigation of the case, while ensuring the proper course of action, due process and any necessary legal filings are completed when sexual assaults are reported to campus law enforcement.
Del. Filler-Corn writes, “As a mother of college-aged students, I share the worry of all parents about the safety of our kids when they’re away from home. And like all parents in the Commonwealth, I’ve been heart-broken and outraged by reports of rampant sexual assaults on our university campuses.” She continues, “It’s clear we need new action to prevent these assaults. My bill is designed to encourage a thorough investigation by our justice system and promote information sharing to stop sexual predators from jumping from campus to campus.”
Albemarle County Commonwealth’s Attorney Denise Lunsford stated, “I support legislation that would require notice to the Commonwealth’s Attorney regarding criminal sexual assaults occurring on Virginia’s college campuses. Such notice will help assure that violators are held responsible for their actions and that they do not commit such crimes in the future by allowing for prompt investigation and collection of evidence as well as, if appropriate, prosecution of these crimes. Additionally, notice to the Commonwealth’s Attorney will assure that survivors of such offenses are fully aware of all available options.”
WAVY.com asked Christopher Newport University President Paul Trible — whose wife was a victim of rape — about the legislation.
“I don’t have a problem with that, but it is not going to achieve any result unless the victim is willing to step forward and the people can be prosecuted,” Trible said.
On Monday, President Trible emailed WAVY.com further comment on Delegate Filler-Corn’s bill: “We must always encourage victims to step forward and prosecute their attacker. That is the only way we will ever put a stop to these egregious crimes. This legislation will also ensure that all schools honor their responsibility to victims.”
“I have asked [Del.] Chris Jones and [State Senator] Tommy Norment to offer legislation that will require all schools to prominently display on academic transcripts that students have been dismissed and/or suspended and the reasons why. In that way, people will be on notice that something bad happened and students can be protected. Chris and Tommy have agreed to offer this legislation,” Filler-Corn told 10 On Your Side.
Susan Russell gave this advice for what victim’s of sexual assault should do after the attack: “She should immediately contact the local police, and the campus police, and she should make the call to the Commonwealth’s Attorney because if it is not done, time is wasted in forensic collection.”