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Press Release

United States Attorney's Office for the Middle District of Tennessee Commends the Release of Framework for Prosecutors to Strengthen National Response to Sexual Assault and Domestic Violence

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

NASHVILLE – United States Attorney Henry C. Leventis for the Middle District of Tennessee commends the announcement of the Department of Justice’s new resource for prosecutors 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.

“We take any allegation of sexual assault or domestic violence seriously,” said Henry C. Leventis, United States Attorney for the Middle District of Tennessee. “Our prosecutors and victim assistance specialist work closely with victims of these crimes to ensure that their voices are heard and their needs are met. This newly-released framework offers excellent practical guidance based on years of collective experience and will help us ensure that allegations of sexual assault and domestic violence are thoroughly investigated, properly evaluated and, where the evidence permits, prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.”

“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 Justice Department’s Office on Violence Against Women 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.”

Declinations of meritorious allegations of sexual assault or domestic violence may result from misconceptions about how these crimes 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.

More than 120 state, Tribal, military, and federal prosecutors, as well as advocates, academics, and investigators from an array of jurisdictions were consulted in developing this newly-release framework. It 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 the release of the new framework, OVW launched a new webpage with resources designed to assist prosecutors in implementing its principles. The framework 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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The United States Attorney’s Office for the Middle District of Tennessee serves the citizens with the highest standards of professionalism, courage and integrity, and represents the federal government in virtually all of the litigation in which the United States is a party. Congress has given United States Attorneys three statutory responsibilities: (1) the prosecution of criminal cases brought by the Federal Government; (2) the prosecution and defense of civil cases in which the United States is a party; and (3) the collection of debts owed to the Federal government which are administratively uncollectible. The United States Attorney’s Office also responds to the public safety needs of the community by leading an effective, well-coordinated law enforcement effort that contributes to the overall goal of improving the quality of life in the Middle District of Tennessee.

OVW provides leadership in developing the nation’s capacity to reduce violence through the implementation of the Violence Against Women Act and subsequent legislation. Created in 1995, OVW administers financial and technical assistance to communities across the country that are developing programs, policies, and practices aimed at ending domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault, and stalking. In addition to overseeing federal grant programs, OVW funds national training and technical assistance and undertakes initiatives in response to special needs identified by communities facing acute challenges. Learn more at

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Mark H. Wildasin

Executive Assistant U.S. Attorney

(615) 736-2079

Updated May 20, 2024

Violent Crime