Yesterday, October 16, 2018, four sexual assault victims – Jane Doe 1, Jane Doe 2, Jane Doe 3, and Jane Doe 4 – filed a petition in the Utah Supreme Court, asking the Court to appoint a prosecutor to file criminal charges in their cases. Represented by Professor Paul Cassell of the Utah Appellate Clinic (of the S.J. Quinney College of Law at the University of Utah) and five other attorneys, the Jane Does are challenging the decision by local prosecutors not to file charges in their cases under a new state constitutional theory. The petition represents an important effort to provide an avenue for crime victims in general – and sexual assault victims in particular – to obtain review of prosecutors’ decisions not to file charges in criminal cases. Legal Momentum releases the following Statement of Support to stand with these four victims and their precedent-setting petition:
Legal Momentum, the Women’s Legal Defense and Education Fund, has stood at the forefront of advancing the rights of women and girls—particularly victims of sexual and domestic violence—for nearly 50 years. Through targeted litigation, innovative public policy, and education, Legal Momentum makes strides towards a society in which survivors of sexual violence are believed and supported, have open and reliable avenues to report their victimization, and receive justice and offender accountability. Our award-winning National Judicial Education Program (NJEP) has, for more than 35 years, educated the judiciary and justice-system professionals on the myths and misconceptions about sexual assault that are deeply held in our society and which lead to under-investigation, under-prosecution, and flawed adjudications in sexual violence cases.
Today a petition was filed in the Utah Supreme Court on behalf of four women: four survivors of sexual assault whose victimization was diminished and who have been denied the opportunity to seek justice. From almost five decades of this work, we know that across the country victims and survivors are living this reality, chilled into silence by systems that minimize the violence to which they have been subjected. We know too well that the analysis that leads prosecutors to the decision that a sexual assault case is “unlikely to succeed”, despite sufficient evidence, is rooted in the myths and misconceptions which decades of research has debunked. Legal Momentumstands with these four survivors, who represent so many others, and supports their pursuit of justice.
About Legal Momentum
Legal Momentum is a 501 (c)(3) nonprofit organization founded in 1970 to advance the rights of women by using the power of the law and creating innovative public policy in three broad areas: economic justice, freedom from gender-based violence and equality under the law. For more information visit www.legalmomentum.org.