Reflecting on Sexual Violence
As a young boy, I suffered episodes of being sexually exploited. I denied it as real for many years but in hindsight acknowledge what happened to me and how the trauma manifested in various aspects of my life. Through several years of therapy, I have experienced healing, found a modicum of peace, and taken back control of my life from the pain I endured.
I know well from these experiences that sexual violence causes sometimes irreparable wounds and is not acceptable in any form. Survivors of sexual violence, harassment and misconduct have endured unique harm and deserve dignity, healing, and justice.
We will aggressively investigate and prosecute sexual violence regardless of who the victims are and who the offenders are. This means demanding and ensuring our local police departments utilize best practices when investigating sexual violence.
I am committed to ensuring that restorative justice models are always on the table, and that we honor and help those survivors regardless of whether they wish to participate in the adversarial process.
This help includes advocating for services outside of the criminal system. Survivors often need holistic advocacy to secure the appropriate educational conditions at school following trauma, seek protection from immigration authorities, locate safe housing, obtain civil protective orders, and identify appropriate services on the continuum of care. I am committed to establishing an Independent Office of Survivor Counsel for such advocacy and I pledge resources to support this goal.
For those who do wish to pursue prosecution, we will ensure that all employees working on cases involving sexual violence are trauma informed, and ensure that all survivors have trauma informed advocates that can help them navigate the emotional turbulence that the lifeline of a prosecution brings.
My commitment as District Attorney is to uphold the standard of dignity and respect for all survivors, and to do so without a knee-jerk reaction that more incarceration is the only answer to harms like sexual violence.
I know for me, I did not and do not want the person who hurt me to be incarcerated but desired that the person instead receive interventions and treatment that prevent them from hurting anyone else.
That said, through the many conversations with survivors I have had in recent years and personal experiences listening to the accounts of survivors in my capacity as a public defender, I have come to better appreciate and understand that punishment and incarceration can be vital components of a sentence. Incarceration can deter sexual violence, provide survivors some measure of justice and safety, protect the public from further harm, and ensure meaningful consequences for those who inflict the irreperable trauma of sexual violence.
My approach will be to seek evidence-based sentences that take into account the circumstances of the harm, the grave impact on the survivor and the community, the desires of the survivor, and the context, age, background, prospects for rehabilitation, and threat of future harm of the accused.
A sentence for cases involving sexual violence can and will include probation or parole, mandatory sex offender treatment, fines, victim restitution, sex offender registration, and the lifelong collateral consequences and stigame of a conviction.
Ultimately, we will strive for outcomes that hold offenders accountable, honor and respect survivors, and address root causes so that the sexual violence never occurs again. This will be the approach whether or not accused people exercise their rights to trial.
As DA, I vow to fairly and thoughtfully balance all of these critical considerations in seeking out the most just and necessary outcome in each case. And while some may not agree with our office’s decisions or response on a particular case, we will always center survivors, apply the law fairly, and fight to achieve justice for every person regardless of race, gender or socioeconomic status.
On this point, I offer a piece I authored recently which addresses my previous writings about the Brock Turner case and shares my current perspectives on sexual and gender based violence, including much of what I’ve outlined above.