Good afternoon, everyone. Thank you all for joining us.
I’m Katie Sullivan, the Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General for the Office of Justice Programs in the U.S. Department of Justice. I’m thrilled to be here today with the outstanding U.S. Attorney for the Western District of Pennsylvania, Scott Brady. I’m also very pleased to be joined by Dr. Mary Ellen Glasgow, Dean of the Duquesne School of Nursing, and Dr. Alison Colbert, Associate Professor in the Duquesne School of Nursing. You’ll hear from each of them in just a moment. I also want to introduce my wonderful colleague, Jessica Hart, the Director of the Office for Victims of Crime, which is part of my agency.
We’ve brought everyone together today to discuss a critical public safety concern – one that affects our communities and our college campuses. That’s the crime of sexual assault.
According to our Bureau of Justice Statistics, Americans 12 years and older were victims of almost 460,000 rapes or sexual assaults in 2019. Two in three went unreported to police. This means that most victims of sexual assault get neither the services they need nor the justice they deserve. We simply cannot accept this.
For college students, no less than others who endure an assault, the experience can be devastating. Like most sexual assault survivors, the majority of student victims know their assailants. This compounds trauma with a profound sense of betrayal. Even more than non-students, student victims of campus sexual assault are reluctant to report their assault. And fewer than one in five female students gets help from a victim services agency.
Which brings us to why we are here today.
Sexual assault is an appalling violation and an outrageous injustice, and our Attorney General, Bill Barr, refuses to stand by while these crimes go unpunished and victims go unserved. Under his direction, the Department of Justice is putting substantial resources into programs that help survivors get the support they need.
This includes high-quality medical forensic attention that can hasten recovery and help solve cases and bring perpetrators to justice – the kind of services offered by Sexual Assault Nurse Examiners, known as SANEs. SANEs are skilled medical professionals who can respond immediately and holistically to the needs of sexual assault victims. In the aftermath of an assault, they are there to provide comprehensive care, including that all-important forensic exam, which is so critical to building the case for prosecution. SANEs can be a lifeline for sexual assault victims.
Today, I’m very pleased to announce that our Office for Victims of Crime is awarding almost $4 million in grants to eight institutions of higher learning to support campus SANE programs. The fabulous Duquesne School of Nursing is one of the recipients.
These grants will help develop and expand SANE services on campus in collaboration with community organizations and local victim assistance providers. Funding will help pay salaries, support training and mentoring for aspiring SANEs, buy necessary equipment and raise awareness about SANE services. The goal is to get survivors the support they need and empower them in their search for justice and healing.
I want to thank Dr. Glasgow and her team for being part of this incredible movement and for being the advocates that victims of sexual assault need. My thanks, as well, to U.S. Attorney Brady for his support of this effort and for all he does to lead the fight against sexual assault here in the Western District of Pennsylvania.
The people of Pittsburgh are fortunate to have two such compassionate, committed professionals looking out for the safety of their fellow citizens. Rest assured that the Department of Justice will continue to stand by them – and by every victim of sexual assault.
Thank you for being here today, and it’s now my pleasure to ask U.S. Attorney Brady to say a few words.