State Rep. Laura Cox of Livonia and other lawmakers today held a bipartisan press conference at the state Capitol to encourage education, awareness and community involvement to prevent sexual violence and create a safer environment for everyone. April is recognized as Sexual Assault Awareness Month across the country.
To highlight the need to address sexual assault, Reps. Cox and Kristy Pagan introduced resolutions in the House declaring April 2017 as Sexual Assault Awareness Month in the state of Michigan and Campus Sexual Assault Awareness and Prevention Month in the state of Michigan. Companion resolutions were also introduced in the Senate.
“Sexual assault is a serious issue plaguing college campuses across the country,” Rep. Cox said. “The goal of the legislation that I introduced with Senators Schuitmaker and Warren allows courts to properly take into consideration a suspect’s history of sexual assault as we work to take these dangerous predators off our streets. This legislation will be an important tool in cold case prosecutions, to help hold serial sexual assault perpetrators accountable. I am proud to be a part of the team that’s helping to put an end to sexual assault on and off campuses throughout the state of Michigan.”
For the past year, Rep. Cox has worked alongside Michigan’s first lady, Sue Snyder, to develop methods to end sexual assault on college campuses. The Let’s End Campus Sexual Assault initiative was formed by Snyder in an effort to research ways to uniformly work with victims. The program intends to end campus sexual assaults by changing the culture that leads authorities to dismiss allegations, encouraging victims to report the crime and developing uniform punishments for offenders.
Lore A. Rogers, staff attorney for the Michigan Domestic and Sexual Violence Prevention and Treatment Board, and Kathy Hagenian, executive policy director for the Michigan Coalition to End Domestic & Sexual Violence, also attended the press conference. About one in six women will be the victim of sexual assault in her lifetime, and statistics show that sexual violence is more prevalent at college in comparison to other crimes.
State Rep. Laura Cox speaks to the press about promoting Sexual Assault Awareness Month and was joined by, from left, state Reps. Julie Alexander and Michele Hoitenga, state Sen. Tonya Schuitmaker, state Rep. Kristy Pagan, state Sen. Rebekah Warren and State Rep. John Chirkun.