SPRINGFIELD, Mo. As an effort to tackle the issue of sexual assault in Springfield, a task force is working to come up with new ideas to help and protect victims.
KOLR10 spoke with four members of this task force and tells us more about what they’re doing.
Some members of this task force work with victims, in sexual assault or domestic violence fields, or are just citizen advocates who are victims themselves.
They told me they are narrowing the focus of the task force to things that the city council can directly address.
“There are a group of individuals who were selected by the city council to serve on a task force that is addressing sexual assault in the Springfield community,” said Brandi Bartel, executive director of the Victim Center.
Bartell explains what the goal of the task force is, “providing better services to victims, and also creating a culture of safety and support to all persons who live here.”
“We think we need more research,” said Lisa Farmer, chair of the sexual assault task force, “we have a lot of data out there, but it hasn’t really been analyzed in a comprehensive fashion. So what is our local data about sexual assault tell us?”
Farmer told KOLR10 the three specific areas that the task force will be focusing on, “what can we do to prevent or mitigate victim fallout, that’s the second area. And then the third is education. Community education and responder provider education.”
“Education of city officials,” added Dee Ogilvy, another member of the sexual assault task force, “education of the police department. Education of the general population.”
Members of the task force said why sexual assault is a major problem.
“Rape of a minor, where the adult male gets no time, gets probation,” said Ogilvy, “this is a child. If she’s 11 or 12 or 14, she’s a child and he’s a grown man. He is at fault. He should be held at a higher standard.”
“We remember the story of a coach several years ago, at one of the colleges here, he was found guilty, but he was given a three-day sentence. He was guilty of sexual assault, rape,” Janice Thompson, another member of the sexual assault task force said, “but we only gave him three days. And what message does that send when we have that kind of situation?
The group will be presenting their recommendations to city council in August.
“It’s going to be reasonable, it’s going to be feasible, it’s going to be coming from a place of best practices, and done with a fidelity of professionalism,” Bartel said.
The next task force meeting will be on May 30th at the Busch building.
It is open to the public.
Thompson encouraged any victim who wants to share their stories to come to this meeting and share, so the group can use this information to help move the task force in a good direction that directly helps the victims.