Local prosecutors receive sexual assault training in Appleton
GREEN BAY, Wis. (WBAY) – The Wisconsin Department of Justice wants to send a loud and clear message to the community regarding sexual assault cases in the state.
On Wednesday, local prosecutors underwent special sexual assault training in Appleton to ensure such cases are handled efficiently and carefully.
“Prosecutors need a toolkit of material references that they can use to make their decisions effectively and efficiently and so that’s what we’ve tried to provide,” says Rebecca Sommers, Assistant Attorney General, Wisconsin Department of Justice.
Sommers, who is also a sexual assault resource attorney, said the training included discussions about possible charges, motions, plea agreements and sentencing.
She said they also discussed ongoing cases in the Wisconsin Supreme Court that could have a major impact on sexual assault cases. One of them concerned the question of whether a defendant had the right to access a victim’s private mental health records.
“Currently, if a victim says they don’t consent to release their mental health record, they’re not allowed to testify. And that often means we have to dismiss a case that is truly tragic,” Sommers said.
The last time the state held a standalone conference on sexual assault in the state was in 2014. It was held at a central location. However, this year, the DOJ provided training for prosecutors by hosting four regional training sessions across the state.
“We travel to them because they matter to us. They are important to us. And we know they take time out of very busy schedules. These are people who could be assigned 300 cases and there are victims who rely on them to be effective and efficient in their work,” Sommers said.
This is the same message that Sommers and Attorney General Josh Kaul want the community to take away from these trainings as well.
“It is critical that survivors of sexual assault know that law enforcement and state attorneys are on their side and that we stand ready to ensure cases are investigated and brought to justice. prosecution if survivors feel comfortable coming forward and speaking to law enforcement,” Kaul said.
“There’s really a culture shift happening right now where they believe in victims and understand that these are people who shouldn’t be held to a different standard, a different level of control just because of the crime that is committed against them,” Sommers said. “We talk about survivors and we talk about victims. Not all victims become survivors, and we hope they will and we hope that through our contributions and by enabling the line prosecutors to do their job, we can help them to help victims become survivors.
Kaul also reminded all prosecutors that it is now legal to submit all sexual assault kits to the state crime lab for testing and results can be tracked through an agency-wide system. State for more effective prosecutions.
There’s never been a workout exactly like this before in Wisconsin
Copyright 2022 WBAY. All rights reserved.