Arizona tribe set to prosecute first non-Indian under a new law

The Violence Against Women Act was expanded in 2013 to allow Native American tribes to prosecute non-Indians in cases involving domestic violence. Before that, women such as Frances Cupis were unable to press charges against violent partners in tribal court.

ON PASCUA YAQUI INDIAN RESERVATION, ARIZ. — Tribal police chief Michael Valenzuela drove through darkened desert streets, turned into a Circle K convenience store and pointed to the spot beyond the reservation line where his officers used to take the non-Indian men who battered Indian women.

“We would literally drive them to the end of the reservation and tell them to beat it,” Valenzuela said. “And hope they didn’t come back that night. They almost always did.”

Full Story and video from Washington Post.

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Filed under domestic violence, domestic violence law, sexual assault, victims of crime, violence against women, Violence Against Women Act

Annual Fundraiser: Safe at Home Softball Tournament June 7

Save the Date Softball Tournament 2014

Safe at Home Co-Ed Softball Tournament, the S.H.A.R.E., Inc. Domestic Violence Program annual fundraiser, will be held from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., Saturday, June 7, 2014 at the Joslin-Needham Softball Complex in Brush, Colorado.

The event features a One Pitch Co-Ed Tournament and a Homerun Tournament. Call to reserve your spot right away! Entry fee is $200 per team; corporate sponsorships are available.

In the event of rain, the tournament will be held Sunday, June 8.

For more information and to register call Jan at the S.H.A.R.E., Inc. office at (970) 867-4444.

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Justice Department Finds Substantial Evidence of Gender Bias in Missoula County Attorney’s Office Response to Sexual Assault Cases

wjc letterhead




March 24, 2014

Jocelyn Samuels
Acting Assistant Attorney General
Civil Rights Division, US Dept. of Justice
Washington, D.C.

Michael W. Cotter
United States Attorney
Missoula, Montana

Open Letter Re: District Attorney Obligations and Accountability to Victims of Violence Against Women

Dear Ms. Jocelyn Samuels and Mr. Michael W. Cotter,

Thank you! Thank you! Thank you!

We have read and re-read your February 2014 U.S. Department of Justice Letter of Findings [see below] regarding the Missoula District Attorney’s mishandling of rape cases, and we’ve passed it on to others in hopes it will be widely used as the groundbreaking legal tool it is.

You’ve done an extraordinarily valuable service to women by trail blazing a solid legal path to district attorney obligations and accountability to victims of violence against women, where before there was only the seemingly impassible thicket of anti-women court decisions dating back decades and right up to present day.

Like the Missoula district attorney, there are still way too many district attorneys around the country who believe their official powers of discretion give them carte blanch to ignore, disregard, ditch, discriminate against, and deny justice to women, as they wish, and with impunity. Indeed, until your findings, a district attorney’s systematic denial of justice to women has been deemed untouchable, and has stood as a key and intractable obstacle in the struggle to end violence against women.

The legal foundation you establish in your findings is so commonsense, rigorous, and thoroughly constructed that women anywhere can stand securely on your argument to demand equal justice from their local district attorneys. Its great strength is that you have forged this foundation squarely within the framework of women’s fundamental constitutional rights. And it’s especially helpful that you’ve accompanied your legal citations with brief, plain-language summaries that can be understood by all.

In addition to cementing a district attorney’s prosecutorial obligations to victims of violence against women, your coverage of related obligations is also extremely helpful, such as your construct and foundation for a district attorney responsibility to investigate these cases, as well as prosecute, when police have failed to properly do so.

Your Letter of Findings was also immensely gratifying personally for your use of the year 2000 9th Circuit Court decision in the case of Macias v. Sheriff Ihde as a pillar in your findings. Myself and colleague Tanya Brannan were the advocates on that case, and we have always pondered why it lay dormant for so long. As you can imagine, we are ever so pleased you have built on Macias and other cases to greatly and so solidly advance the cause of justice for women.

Thank you again.


Marie De Santis, Director
Women’s Justice Center
Santa Rosa, CA


Department of Justice

Office of Public Affairs


Friday, February 14, 2014

Justice Department Finds Substantial Evidence of Gender Bias in Missoula County Attorney’s OfficeResponse to Sexual Assault Cases with Women Victims at Issue

Today, the Department of Justice issued a letter of findings describing problems in the Missoula County, Mont., Attorney’s Office’s response to sexual assault, and concluding that there is substantial evidence that the County Attorney’s response to sexual assault discriminates against women.  The department opened civil pattern or practice investigations of the Missoula County Attorney’s Office, along with the Missoula Police Department and the University of Montana’s Office of Public Safety, in May 2012.  The department investigations, brought under the Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act of 1994, and the anti-discrimination provisions of the Omnibus Crime Control and Safe Streets Act of 1968, focused on allegations that the three law enforcement agencies were systematically failing to protect women victims of sexual assault in Missoula.   The department, along with the Office for Civil Rights at the Department of Education, also opened an investigation of the University of Montana’s handling of allegations of sexual assault and harassment of students under Title IV of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972.  The investigation of the Missoula Police Department and both investigations of the University of Montana were resolved in May 2013, via cooperative agreements with the Justice Department.


“Prosecutors play a critical role in ensuring that women victims of sexual assault have effective and equal access to criminal justice,” said Acting Assistant Attorney General Jocelyn Samuels for the Civil Rights Division.  “We uncovered evidence of a disturbing pattern of deficiencies in the handling of these cases by the County Attorney’s Office, a pattern that not only denies victims meaningful access to justice, but places the safety of all women in Missoula at risk.  We hope that this letter will enable us to move forward with constructive discussions with the County Attorney to resolve these serious concerns.”


The department’s investigation uncovered evidence indicating that the Missoula County Attorney’s Office engages in gender discrimination in violation of the Equal Protection Clause of the 14th Amendment to the Constitution as well as relevant federal laws.  In particular, the investigation found evidence that the decisions of the County Attorney’s Office regarding the investigation and prosecution of sexual assaults and rape, particularly non-stranger assaults and rapes, are influenced by gender bias and gender stereotyping and adversely affect women in Missoula.  The investigation found that the following, taken together, strongly suggest gender discrimination:

·          Despite their prevalence in the community, sexual assaults of adult women are given low priority in the County Attorney’s Office;

·          The County Attorney does not provide Deputy County Attorneys with the basic knowledge and training about sexual assault necessary to effectively and impartially investigate and prosecute these cases;

·          The County Attorney’s Office generally does not develop evidence in support of sexual assault prosecutions, either on its own or in cooperation with other law enforcement agencies

·          Adult women victims, particularly victims of non-stranger sexual assault and rape, are often treated with disrespect, not informed of the status of their case and revictimized by the process;  and

·          The County Attorney’s Office routinely fails to engage in the most basic communication about its cases of sexual assault with law enforcement and advocacy partners.

“Over the past eight months, the City of Missoula, the University of Montana and the Missoula Police Department already have made important strides toward improving their response to sexual assault and strengthening the community’s confidence in its local police,” said U.S. Attorney Michael Cotter for the District of Montana.  “It is our sincere hope that the Missoula County Attorney will follow that example and work cooperatively with the Justice Department to address the deficiencies identified in our investigation, and to improve the safety of women in this community.

The investigation was conducted jointly by the Special Litigation Section of the Civil Rights Division and the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Montana.  The prevention of sex-based discrimination is a top priority of the Civil Rights Division and U.S. Attorney’s Offices.  The Civil Rights Division has worked to ensure that women are not subject to discriminatory practices by law enforcement in New Orleans, Puerto Rico and elsewhere.  Additional information about the Civil Rights Division is available on its website.  Additional information about the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Montana can be found on its website.

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Filed under gender-based violence, sexual assault, victims of crime, violence against women

WVU sociology professor research: gender-based violence; enhanced dangers of IPV for rural women

West Virginia University’s Walter S. DeKeseredy has received the Critical Criminal Justice Scholar Award from the Academy of Criminal Justice Sciences. DeKeseredy, the Anna Deane Carlson Endowed Chair of Social Sciences and sociology professor in WVU’s Department of Sociology and Anthropology, was recognized for distinguished accomplishments in scholarship, teaching or service over at least a two-year period.

He has published 19 books and more than 160 scientific journal articles and book chapters on violence against women and other topics.

His most recent empirical work has focused on the enhanced dangers and risks of intimate partner violence for women in rural settings compared to women in urban or suburban settings seeking to end relationships.

In Violence Against Women, he debunks current attempts to label intimate violence as gender neutral, points out the structural practices that sustain this violence, and outlines policies to address the issue. DeKeseredy also includes an examination of male complicity and demonstrates how boys and men can change their roles. Throughout, he responds to myths that dismiss threats to women’s health and safety and issues a call to action.

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Filed under domestic violence, gender-based violence, rural issue, rural violence, violence against women

Domestic violence mobile app to be created

A New York county will create a domestic violence mobile app, the county’s chief said after Natalie Merchant debuted a concert film to benefit such victims.

The new application, designed to run on smartphones, tablet computers and other mobile devices, would be a first line of defense, helping users easily recognize signs of domestic violence in friends and family and get help for them, Ulster County Executive Michael Hein said at the premiere of Merchant’s documentary Shelter: A Concert Film to Benefit Victims of Domestic Violence.

The Hudson Valley county north of New York City already has a suicide awareness and prevention mobile app.

The film screened in Kingston Friday documents a June 2013 concert and testimony-discussion at Bard College in nearby Annandale-on-Hudson.

Singer-songwriter Merchant, an Ulster County resident, and other local musicians performed at that event to raise awareness of domestic violence, which the U.S. Centers of Disease Control and Prevention says one in every four women in the United States experiences.

The Bard event also included state and local domestic violence advocates, criminal prosecutors and violence survivors.

The Kingston screening was followed by a discussion by Merchant, state lawmakers and officials of Ulster and neighboring Dutchess County. County officials included prosecutors focusing on domestic violence crimes, sexual offenses and elder abuse.

Domestic violence has become my obsession in the last year, Merchant told the Daily Freeman of Kingston before the screening.

It’s a silent crisis, she said.

Merchant, who has also supported social justice, children’s rights and environmental causes, was the lead singer and primary lyricist for the alternative rock band 10,000 Maniacs before starting her solo career in 1993.

The screening and discussion, which Merchant said were the first of planned annual domestic violence forums, were held in conjunction with the global One Billion Rising campaign to end violence against women.

An estimated 1.3 million women in the United States are assaulted by an intimate partner each year, CDC statistics indicate.

Nearly a third of female homicide victims cited in police records are killed by an intimate partner, FBI statistics cited by the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence show.

Domestic violence is one of the most chronically under-reported crimes, the Justice Department says. Only 25 percent of physical assaults, 20 percent of rapes and 50 percent of stalkings against women by intimate partners are reported to police, the CDC says.


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Filed under battered women, domestic violence, Domestic violence services, intimate partner violence

Carsey Institute Study: Intimate Partner Violence Among LGBTQ+ College Students

Drawing from a survey of 391 college students in same-sex relationships, this brief documents the rates and patterns of intimate partner violence, and responses to it among LGBTQ+ youth. Authors Katie Edwards and Kateryna Sylaska report that four in ten LGBTQ+ college students in the sample reported intimate partner violence victimization or perpetration within a current relationship and that more than one-third of the victims told no one about the abuse, a rate that is higher than what is generally found among heterosexual college students. Victims most frequently turned to friends when revealing the abuse, followed by family members. Only 9 percent turned to formal supports such as counselors. LGBTQ+ adolescents and young adults are frequently “invisible in mainstream student programs,” and intimate partner violence prevention programs are no exception. The authors conclude that it is critical that college campus programming, policies, and services, including those that are specific to intimate partner violence, strive to be inclusive of LGBTQ+ students.
Carsey Institute Link

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Filed under date violence, domestic violence, intimate partner violence, LGBT, research

Centers for Disease Control Releases Study

Intimate Partner Violence in the U.S.

Late last month, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released their new report, Intimate Partner Violence in the U.S. ~ 2010, which explores patterns of victimization and its impact. This data, from the National Intimate Partner and Sexual Violence Survey (NISVS), provides information about the context of victimization experiences.

Visit NCDSV’s collection which includes the final report, related materials interpreting the study and practical guidance in using the information.

This is the fourth part of the NISVS; the original in November 2011; Prevalence of Intimate Partner Violence, Stalking and Sexual Violence Among Active Duty Women and Wives of Active Duty Men in March 2013; and 2010 Findings on Victimization by Sexual Orientation in January 2013.

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