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Press Release

U.S. Attorney’s Office for D.C. Aids Justice Department’s Creation of Framework for Prosecutors to Strengthen National Response to Sexual Assault and Domestic Violence

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, District of Columbia

            WASHINGTON - U.S. Attorney Matthew M. Graves commends the announcement of the Department of Justice’s new resource for prosecutors, “Framework for Prosecutors to Strengthen Our National Response to Sexual Assault and Domestic Violence Involving Adult Victims,”

            The announcement was made today in Dallas, TX at the Conference on Crimes Against Women by Rosemarie Hidalgo, Director of the Office on Violence Against Women (OVW).  The guide, written by prosecutors for prosecutors, sets out five principles that, if implemented, will lead to better outcomes for victims, safer communities, and greater accountability for perpetrators of sexual assault and domestic violence.

            “The framework announced today reaffirms our commitment to expanding access to justice for all survivors, who deserve respect and the right to be heard,” said the Department’s Office on Violence Against Women (OVW) Director Rosie Hidalgo. “Enhancing the prosecution response to sexual assault and domestic violence in a trauma-informed manner is a key piece in ending gender-based violence, as part of a broader coordinated community response that includes services and support for survivors, and can have a real, immediate impact on the safety of survivors and entire communities.”

            “This Office sees daily the impact of domestic violence,” said U.S. Attorney Graves. “It is why we have so many dedicated and highly trained prosecutors, victim advocates, and staff members working in the space to support survivors, and why we have implemented innovative and effective programs such as the Sexual Assault Cold Case Initiative and the Intimate Partner Violence Prevention Initiative created and staffed by members of the Office’s Sexual Assault and Domestic Violence Section. We were proud to participate in this effort and to help draft a framework that will be implemented across the country.”

            Declinations of meritorious allegations may result from misconceptions about how crimes involving sexual assault and domestic violence are committed and reported, how victims give their accounts, and the evidence required to prove their accounts. This guide equips prosecutors to build provable cases by: (1) relying on the evidentiary value of the victim’s account to frame the investigation; (2) meeting with victims and working with investigators and victim specialists to do so; (3) using the law and evidentiary rules effectively; (4) being thoughtful about what justice and accountability look like; and (5) sustaining a productive, healthy, and committed workforce by redefining success– all of which are rooted in a prosecutor’s primary obligation to seek the truth and uphold the U.S. Constitution and the rule of law.

            Staff from the U.S. Attorney’s Office for D.C. joined more than 120 state, Tribal, military, and federal prosecutors, as well as advocates, academics, and investigators from an array of jurisdictions to aid the developers of this guide. This guide is designed to encourage prosecutors with all levels of experience to implement its principles when evaluating, investigating, and prosecuting allegations involving sexual assault and domestic violence. In conjunction with this guide, OVW launched a new webpage with resources designed to assist prosecutors in implementing the guide and its principles. This guide further serves as a complement to the Justice Department’s 2022 updated guidance on Improving Law Enforcement Response to Sexual Assault and Domestic Violence by Identifying and Preventing Gender Bias.

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Updated May 20, 2024

Topic
Office and Personnel Updates
Press Release Number: 24-439