Tag Archives: #RapeSurvivor

Victim-Blaming Consent Bills Will not Conquer Sexual Assault!

Three legislative bills to deal with sexual assault have just been introduced in three individual states this month. CAN actively engaged with the legislators for each one.

In fact, to emphasize our point, we conducted Zoom calls and appeared in hearings with legislators, and we included several celebrities who understood the failure of our laws because they’re Weinstein and Cosby survivors. Our heartfelt thanks goes to Rose McGowan, Andrea Constand, Jessica Mann, Mimi Haley, Dawn Dunning and Tarale Wulff.

The new bills are: House Bill 1176 in Indiana, House Bill 0213 in Utah, and House Bill No. 5 in Alaska.

While the attention to sexual assault is welcome, to effect meaningful change, legislators can’t simply regurgitate flawed language that supports outdated myths!

Unfortunately, none of the three bills that were introduced contain specific, game-changing, legislative language to conquer sexual assault. Instead, while they, indeed, criminalize a specific behavior we advocated for fixing, rape by impersonation, they perpetuate the victim-blaming mentality that’s engrained in our justice system.

Your help could fix this!

When writing legislation, legislators often rely on laws that already exist in other jurisdictions and settle for copy-catting ineffective statutes. The theory behind this method is that they can defend their bill by saying…. “Well, so-and-so does it this way.”

My mother (RIP) used to say: “If so-and-so jumps off a bridge, does that mean you should do it too?”

Example:

The Basics of Marching | Military.com

The bill in Alaska relies on the language of federal military law to establish its consent provision. Their House Bill #5 submitted by Representative Geran Tarr on January 8, 2021, states:

Sec. 4(9) – “Consent” means a freely given, reversible agreement specific to the conduct at issue by a competent person.”

Alaska is the state with the highest rape statistics. But even their horrific numbers are outdistanced by the military in which 50% of females are sexually harassed or assaulted, with virtually no recourse. Is it really the right statute to emulate?

The military’s language falls short because it leaves out one of the most important characteristics of consent: it must be “knowledgeable and informed.” The public often makes the mistake of thinking of consent as any old form of agreement, but that’s incorrect. There are three basic types of agreement that frequently occur in sexual contact:

  • Assent- Agreement on the face of it,
  • Acquiescence- Agreement under duress,
  • Consent- Freely given, knowledgeable and informed agreement #FGKIA.

While “consent” can only take place between two competent people, consent does not exist when one of those people induces the other’s agreement through force, fear or fraud.

The military’s consent language fails to take into account that the offender’s artifice in inducing agreement determines which type of agreement is actually taking place. Inducing consent is the only form of agreement that makes sexual contact legal. Problem is, no state defines consent, and the federal law neglects to include that one must have competent information in order for their agreement to qualify as consent.

Ex-gymnastics doctor Larry Nassar pleads guilty to 3 more criminal sex  charges

Larry Nassar is in jail for the rest of his life because he induced agreement through the artifice of deception. While his victims assented, agreed on the face of it, they in no way consented, freely gave knowledgeable and informed agreement. While some of his victims had not obtained the age of competence, others had done so. Regardless of their competence level, however, they were all victims of rape by fraud in the factum because the information he gave them was not competent information.

Reversible agreement?

Actually, “revocable” is more to the point. But it goes without saying that because, to qualify as consent, your agreement must be “freely given,” the minute you change your mind, you are no longer consenting.

If; however, legislators feel more comfortable including the concept that consent can be withdrawn in order to emphasize the point, revoke means “to put an end to.” Reverse means “to make the opposite of what it was.”

Revoking clearly means stop, in the moment. Reversing begs the question of what actually existed in the first place and whether you can reverse your decision after the fact. Clearly, freely given knowledgeable and informed agreement can be revoked, but not reversed.

Your discovery that you were forced, coerced or tricked into thinking you were consenting is not a reversal of consent. It is a recognition that the type of agreement that actually took place was not consent to begin with because the malicious conduct of the offender prompted your agreement. The offender disrupted or overpowered your thought process, but only for so long. Our laws need to be crystal clear!

Another glaring mistake in Alaska’s bill…

Sec. 3. AS 11.41.445 is amended by adding a new subsection to read: (1) an expression of lack of consent through words or conduct means there is no consent;

Surely, you are not consenting when your words and conduct convey such. But it’s consent-blind to think that the victim’s ability to discern whether they are being sexually assaulted – in the moment – is always accurate. Saying, or acting like a “no” cannot be the only dividing line between consenting and not consenting, but that’s often how this provision is misused in a courtroom.

Larry Nassar’s victims certainly did not discern, in the moment, that they were being sexually assaulted. Sexual predators go to great lengths to undermine knowledgeable and informed agreement by all forms of deception, duplicity and artifice, that a reasonable person would have difficulty detecting.

Also, victims are often too scared, startled, traumatized, or injured to assert a refusal through words or conduct. The reliance on the victim’s words or conduct takes the responsibility for securing #FGKIA, and places responsibility for their own sexual assault squarely on the shoulders of the victim.

“Words and conduct” are a conveyance. But they can only convey consent when and if consent is actually taking place. Whether the victims knows, or does not know that the offender is undermining the elements needed for consent, the offender knows full well what they are doing. A person’s conduct is criminal because of what they do, not what their victim does. In fact, in courtrooms, victims are considered witnesses to a breech of the state’s code by the accused.

We know #FGKIA is the actual definition for consent because several currently in-force, and strictly adhered-to codes and laws tell us so….

  • Nuremburg Code, which establishes consent for medical treatment and experiments,
  • Model Penal Code which was created by the American Law Institute in 1962, and has been adopted into law in several states to protect against theft,
  • General Data Protection Regulation that protects your cyber-security on the internet and is international law.

All of these codes and provisions are clear that consent is Freely Given, Knowledgeable and Informed Agreement, #FGKIA.

My TEDx Talk “When YES Means NO – The Truth about Consent” clearly explains the distinction between all three types of agreement and why CONSENT, not assent or acquiescence, must take place in sexual contact.

My book, “Your Consent – The Key to Conquering Sexual Assault,” provides greater depth on the issues.

Nulla Poena Sin Lege

This hazardous relic from the Roman era is what makes defining consent so vital in the struggle to conquer sexual assault. It’s a legal doctrine that means, “What’s not prohibited by law is permissible.” Defining consent by specific instances that are “not consent.” fails to cover all the ways consent does not take place. The only way to cover all the ways that consent does not take place and protect against sexual assault is to properly define consent and establish that sexual conduct without consent is a sexual assault.

Claiming that the way to determine if the victim consented or not is to judge whether they made an utterance or tried to get away…. as courts interpret “words and conduct”….. fails to consider all the varied reactions a victim could have when they’re being sexually assaulted – including freezing. It’s the remaining, ugly vestige of patriarchal, rape mentality that’s been passed down in our laws century after century. Our present law makers should make it stop, not perpetuate this victim-blaming language.

The victim’s reaction should not be on trial. The actions of the offender should be on trial. “Words and conduct” puts the victim’s actions on trial. By correctly defining consent, the offender’s efforts to maliciously suppress their victim’s resistance would be on trial.

In real life…..

Donna Rotunno, Harvey Weinstein’s lawyer, exploited the failure of the “words and actions” provision in New York’s laws, claiming that the words and actions of his victims acquitted her client. Fortunately, because five victims stepped up to establish Weinstein’s predatory behavior, he was convicted. But in cases where one victim, alone, has been harmed, the likelihood of conviction is rare. In fact the likelihood of an arrest is infinitesimal.

We’ve all known the horrible statistics, we just didn’t know why. The “why” is that our laws, that we rely on for justice, blame the victim instead.

Alaska’s bill raises fraud as an artifice but narrowly limits the application.

The 14th amendment of the US Constitution grants equal protection under the law. The public needs protection against all forms of sexual assault, not just some forms of sexual assault. Fraud is frequently used by sexual predators as their weapon of choice.

Medieval Weapons stock footage. Video of gore, archaic - 49518644

Fraud is not difficult to understand. Juries consistently determine guilt and innocence in theft by fraud cases. Fraud is not different in sexual assault by fraud cases. Here are its 5 steps:

  1. You deceive
  2. You know you’re deceiving
  3. You expect your victim to believe your deception
  4. They believe your deception
  5. They suffer harm as a result of believing your deception

Fraud can be used to create all sorts of crimes, including sexual assault. Clearly, when we understand that consent must be “knowledgeable and informed,” we can understand why defrauding a person for sex is a crime. Keep in mind that in order to prosecute a fraud case, the victim would have to have significant proof that a fraud, indeed, took place,

In addition. the prosecutor would have to be convinced that a “reasonable person” would have been deceived under the same circumstance.

The job of the jury is to act as “reasonable people,” in fraud cases and other crimes. In fact, in the Bill Cosby case, when the jury asked for the definition for “consent,” Judge Steven O’Neill responded; “You’re ‘reasonable people’; use your commonsense,” because no definition for consent exists in Pennsylvania’s laws.

HB 5’s narrow wording on sexual assault by fraud, confining the crime to “someone pretending to be another person,” is not sufficient to protect Alaskan’s from all forms of sexual assault by fraud.

Signing of the Declaration of Independence | National Geographic Society

Many of our legislators, principally male, think it’s trivial, even good sport, to defile a woman by defrauding her. If you look back at the immorality of our forefathers in owning slaves and conducting extramarital affairs, it’s hard to fathom how our country became the standard bearer for human rights. While we’ve abolished slavery, we still have not abolished sexual assault.

Even today- our legislators are reticent to take a clear position to prevent defilement by fraud because they either fail to see the life-changing harm in the conduct, or fear that their base fails to see it, and they will lose their support.

Our penal codes separate “sexual assault” provisions from “assault” provisions because of the devastating impacts of defilement on a person. That defilement can take place from all violations of sexual autonomy, not only violent ones.

As civilization has evolved, we’ve recognized that sexual assault can happen to men as well as women, but the stereo-typical concept that sexual assault is a “women’s problem” perpetuates dismissiveness. While our laws are clear that consent is freely given, knowledgeable and informed agreement when protecting a man’s property, we deny that the same definition applies in sexual contact.

Corrected, accurate wording, that is consistent with HB #5’s objective, is:

Consent is freely given, revocable, knowledgeable and informed agreement, by a competent person.

Although being “revocable ” is understood by the fact that consent must be freely given, it does not hurt to include the information for clarity.

And if, in addition, Alaska’s Penal Code stated that “Nonconsensual sex is sexual assault,” like the ItsOnUs Pledge tells us, folks in Alaska would be able to secure justice for all types of sexual assault. But instead, the bill states specific types of sexual assault, leaving abundant legal loopholes for predators to slip through.

Defining consent correctly would put all sexual predators on notice, guide their behavior, and hold them accountable.

Indiana- the new Hoosier bill

I am truly ecstatic to see the new sexual assault by fraud bill, HB 1176, gain traction in Indiana’s legislature! Back in late 2017, I began communicating with Indiana State Representative Sally Siegrist to help enact legislation for Indiana. In fact, my TEDx Talk focused on the case that served as Indiana’s “Ah-Ha Moment” for creating the bill. The information was picked up by Buzzfeed, Nightline, Inside Edition, the NY Times, and additional media outlets.

A female student at Purdue University was defrauded for sex by an imposter; a male student named Donald Grant Ward. Ward climbed in bed with her – after seeing that she was asleep and her boyfriend had left the room. She had fallen asleep in her boyfriend’s bed, with his arms embracing her. Thinking Ward, who stroked her breast, was her boyfriend, she engaged in sex. When she learned the truth, she and her boyfriend called the police.

Even though Ward readily admitted to tricking her, and confessed his intent to do so to the police, the arrest led to an acquittal because rape by deception is not a crime in Indiana. And, like every other state, Indiana has no definition for consent.

I had hoped that with Rep. Siegrist’s help, we could close the legal loophole in Indiana’s law on rape by fraud, and provide Hoosiers with greater protection against sexual assault with a clear definition of consent.

South Carolina State Representative Mandy Powers-Norell saw the Buzzfeed article that featured both myself and Rep. Siegrist. She was determined to make a difference and submitted HB 3829 last year, which died in committee.

New cast of characters

On January 7th, this year, Rep. Siegrist’s colleague, Rep. Sharon Negele, along with Rep. Donna Schaibley, and Rep. Sue Errington, introduced HB 1176 to get the job done in Indiana.

Over the summer, the Indiana legislators agreed to conduct an Interim Study on Consent. CAN submitted a video which launched the discussion, featuring myself, Tarale Wulff and Mimi Haley, both Weinstein survivors who had testified against him. Our interest was to get the over-arcing protection of “consent” codified into Indiana’s laws. The Zoom hearing contained heart-wrenching stories about the invalidation and injustice that results from Indiana’s failure to define consent.

One of those stories was presented by Liz White, a mother who’d been artificially inseminated by a doctor who lied about the sperm he was implanting. Instead of the donor he claimed, Dr. Donald Cline used his own sperm. Her research uncovered that he had fathered 90 children by defrauding his patients. He has approximately 180 grandchildren. As a result, his community is at high risk for unknowingly incestuous relationships among his offspring. Ms. White asked that the act of switching sperm by a fertility doctor be included as a sexual assault by fraud.

Sometimes, when you reach for the sun, you get to the moon.

Instead of a consent bill, a narrowly confined sexual assault by fraud bill, specifically making the sexual assault at Purdue University a crime, is finally pending.

During a recent legislative “reading” of the bill by the Codes and Courts Committee, Courtney Curtis, with IPAC, the organization representing Indiana’s Prosecutors, said that sexual assault cases in Indiana result in “disparate treatment from courtroom to courtroom.” Yet despite her statement which underscores how badly needed defining consent actually is in Indiana, she failed to support defining consent in Indiana’s laws.

Curtis went on the claim that fraud is confusing. She failed to acknowledge the simplicity with which judges explain fraud in theft cases exactly as I described above. The committee voted in favor of the narrow bill as written, without including an amendment Ms. White requested. Subsequently, the bill passed in the House of Representatives by a 90 to 4 vote.

HB 1176 also contains the blame-the-victim language created by the concept that a victim’s “words and conduct” convey consent. In fact, they only convey consent when consent, freely given, knowledgeable and informed agreement takes place, not when the offender uses force, fear or fraud to undermine the victim’s self determination.

I truly hope HB 1176 passes, because closing even one legal loophole is far better than doing nothing! But I urge all readers to use your voice to appeal to Indiana’s legislators for clarity on what sexual assault actually is! They need to stop the victim-blaming nonsense they are embedding in their statutes, and recognize their responsibility to “equal protection under the law:” If one act of fraud to induce sexual contact is a sexual assault, then all acts of fraud to induce sexual contact is a sexual assault. And influencing a victim’s decision making process through force, fear or fraud, should never be seen as consent in a court of law. I urge you to use your voice by writing to the legislators who are sponsoring HB 1176. You’ll see their contact information at the end of this post.

Without the definition for consent clearly codified into Indiana’s laws, there is no end to the loopholes that sexual predators can dive into in order to assault their victims.

Last but not least, Utah!

On June 5th, 2020, CAN joined forces with the WE-Will Organization to reach out to Utah State Representative Angela Romero about defining consent in Utah’s laws. On January 8th, 2021, she, along with Senator Todd Weiler introduced HB 0213, entitled “Consent Language Amendments.”

In Section 1. 76-5-406 (2)(g), the first suggested amendment expands the state’s acknowledgement of when consent does not take place from impersonation of “a spouse” to “someone else.”

Just like the Indiana bill, Utah’s bill is a big, but narrow win for sexual assault by fraud. But it’s a legislative loophole plugger, not a consent definition. It fails to deal with any other deception or method for undermining a victim’s right to #FGKIA,

If sexual assault is a crime, and we know it is, as a result of the 14th amendment, the public deserves protection from all sexual assaults, not simply a few selected ones. Only by recognizing that consent is freely given, knowledgeable and informed agreement, will the public be properly served by Utah’s penal code.

Making it simple

If someone threatens you in order to get you to give them your car, they’re committing grand larceny. If they threaten you to induce sexual contact, “You agreed, didn’t you?”

Bernie Madoff | Biography, Ponzi Scheme, & Facts | Britannica

In New York, Bernie Madoff will spend the rest of his life in jail because he defrauded victims of their assets by false pretenses. He did so in a manner that a reasonable person would not suspect.

But if you show your victim a divorce decree, with a raised seal and judge’s signature, claiming that you’re divorced when you’re not, in order to sexually penetrate them, they have absolutely no recourse when they discover the decree is a forgery. This, by the way is an actual case in which the Honorable James J. Panchik, a divorce judge in Armstrong County Pennsylvania, whose signature was forged on the document, was notified and failed to do anything about it.

One more important thing…….

Do sexual predators actually read penal code? Probably not! At least, not ’til they’ve been caught! In fact I dare say, most of the public has never read it either.

Laws that drone on with legal-ease negatives about specific nonconsensual acts do not give the public the guidance and accountability that defining consent clearly, in simple terms, will create.

Can we make it simpler than “Consent is freely given, knowledgeable and informed agreement?” That’s what it is! A six year old child can learn and understand it.

How to stop a child from stealing - 9Honey
  • They don’t have consent if they lie that they finished their homework in order to have a cookie.
  • They don’t have consent if the kid next to them on the school bus dropped their lunch money. They are responsible to return it.
  • They don’t have consent if they bully a younger child to give up the swing when they want it.

If you’d like help explaining consent to your kids, watch our cartoon, “Your Consent for Kids.” It’s totally G-rated!

Consent is not rocket-science folks! It’s really simple to understand! And we need our legislators to protect us from sexual assault by getting it right!

How can you help?

Contact the bill’s authors and co-authors by phone or email. If by phone, you can simply leave a message. If by email, please provide us with a copy by cc or bcc to info@consentawareness.net.

Alaska:

  • Rep. Geran Tarr- Rep.Geran.Tarr@akleg.gov – 907-465-3424
  • Legislative Director Michelle Hale- MichelleHale907@gmail.com

Indiana:

  • Rep. Sharon Negele- Write or call her Legislative Asst: Lewis Ostermeyer at Lewis.Ostermeyer@iga.in.gov – 317-232-9816
  • Rep. Donna Schaibley- Donna.Schaibley@iga.in.gov – 800-382-9841
  • Rep. Sue Errington- Sue.Errington@iga.in.gov

Utah:

  • Rep. Angela Romero- AngelaRomero@le.utah.gov – 801-722-4972
  • Sen. Todd Weiler- tweiler@le.utah.gov – 801-599-9823

Here’s a simple message for you to cut/paste and fill-in the blanks:

Dear _________,

Thank you for your efforts to create Bill _______.

While I support all legislative changes to combat sexual assault, I see that this bill fails to accurately define consent, and this failure perpetuates rape and sexual assault.

Please include this wording in your bill:

“Non-consented-to sexual contact is a sexual assault, and a violation of the victim’s human rights. Only “freely given, knowledgeable and informed agreement” is consent in the state of _____.

Sincerely Yours,

Your name, address, and phone number

One more thing…..

CAN simply CAN’t do everything that’s needed without your help! No matter how large or small your contribution is, it’s welcome and will be put to good use to fight for CONSENT laws across the US and around the world!

Thank you in advance for your generosity!

Please use this PayPal Link.

Do legislators Enable rape?

Indiana State Representative Wendy McNamara

On October 6th, the Legislative Interim Study Committee on Consent in Indiana, comprised of 14 Indiana legislators, and led by Representative Wendy McNamara, proved that legislators give lip-service to the problem of sexual assault, but fail to produce meaningful solutions.

In spite of protests by three legislators from both sides of the aisle, McNamara insisted on filing her committee’s report with NO support for a consent bill. She even refused to include any mention that the committee would continue to research and work toward a solution.

According to The Statehouse File.com from Franklin College, McNamara said: “I don’t think we necessarily gleaned from testimony that we need a definition as a state. I’m not prepared at this time to say we in essence recommend that we have to have a definition.”

Apparently, we need to ask Representative McNamara- “How does an obscure concept of CONSENT possibly convey an understanding of rape to the residents of Indiana? And how do you expect sexual predators to be held accountable when you, as a law maker who your constituents have entrusted with protecting them, knowingly fail to define consent in Indiana’s laws?”

In the upcoming election, voters should be deeply concerned with supporting candidates who fail to pledge to #CodifyConsent. The people of Indiana will know how their candidates stand on this issue because CAN will be tweeting every candidate over the next few weeks. And you, no matter what state or jurisdiction you live in, should do the same….. #WillYouCodifyConsent?

The Consent Awareness Network placed the need for a consent definition in Indiana right in front of the committee members’ noses.

In fact, the launch of the committee’s efforts began with a video we submitted, featuring Weinstein Survivors, Mimi Haley and Tarale Wulff, like this one. Their testimony included the fact that the jury asked for the definition for consent, and that because New York state also fails to define consent in its penal code, the judge simply replied, “Use your commonsense.”

Does McNamara actually believe that each jury should make up their own definition for consent, or should they decide the case based on the evidence presented at trial? How does making up their own definition serve society’s right for the equal protection under the law granted by the 14th Amendment of the United States?

Additional Supports

We also provided the study committee with a well-researched draft bill we’d worked on with the legislators in Pennsylvania, as well as free copies of “Your Consent – The Key to Conquering Sexual Assault.”

Here’s why legislators turn a blind eye to defining consent in our laws:

Centuries of horrifically ignoring sexual sanctity are so engrained in our penal codes that legislators are tone deaf on changing the laws.

Even Greek mythology ignored the concept of consent as in the tale of “Leda and the Swan” in which Zeus takes the form of a swan to have his way with Leda.

Our laws recognize that consent is freely given, knowledgeable and informed agreement #FGKIA when protecting your property, your medical decisions, your identity on the internet, and countless other things. But the need for applying that same concept to protecting a woman’s body is treated as absurd and unimportant.

Our forefathers, many of whom had horrific records of indecent sexual conduct, fashioned laws with no regard for women, and still do so even though sexual assault can affect men as well. But there are far more voting males who are covert sexual predators, then the amount of voting male victims of sexual assault. To legislators, votes matter!

It’s baffling how law makers rely on the opinions of the legal establishment to determine what harms their constituents suffer.

Behaviors are and should be crimes because of the harm they inflict on society; not the ease or difficulty to prosecute in a court of law. Law makers put more stock in what the legal establishment says about prosecution than what their constituents actually need for protection.

CAN, including Cheryl Carmel, the Foreperson for the second Bill Cosby jury, meeting with Senator Katie Muth in Pennsylvania

The Consent Awareness Network has engaged in efforts to secure appropriate “Consent” language in penal codes in several states including MA, PA, AK, UT, NY, IN, TX, SC, and more. Each legislator we spoke with is clear that consent is freely given, knowledgeable and informed agreement, #FGKIA, but in each and every state, the legislative reliance on the legal establishment is creating an impasse to securing appropriate protections for society. 

Lawmakers did not have to ask permission from the legal establishment to determine what constitutes murder. We all know that the pre-meditated killing of another human being is a crime. The US Department of Justice Statistics tells us that only one third of violent crimes actually lead to an arrest. Despite the difficulty pursuing murderers, we still recognize what murder actually is. Despite the difficulty pursuing sexual predators, our laws must correctly state that consent is freely given, knowledgeable and informed agreement, and that nonconsensual sex is a crime!

Call your legislator. Demand that they #CodifyConsent in your state. If you’d like CAN’s help securing correctly defined “consent” in your penal code, contact us at info@ConsentAwareness.net.

Once our lawmakers get CONSENT right, the legal establishment will have to prosecute or defend sexual assault cases according to the law. Reliance on the legal establishment to create the law is like the tail wagging the dog! In this case, it’s a very complacent, cavalier dog that thinks society won’t recognize how complicit they are in enabling rape.

Stop the ignorant nonsense. Demand that legislators #CodifyConsent today!

Can you help launch “CONSENT” in Indiana?

Your help is urgently needed!

Defining CONSENT in our laws is the critical key to conquering sexual assault, and the legislators of Indiana are examining the definition for this pivotal word for Indiana’s penal code….. RIGHT NOW!

Defining consent in one state, opens the doors to defining consent in every state and jurisdiction across the US and around the world, no matter where the process starts!

The late Ruth Bader Ginsburgs’s words never rang truer than today: “Nothing changes without changing our laws!” You can be part of this monumental, transformational change!

Like every other state throughout the US, Indiana currently fails to define “consent” in its penal code.

Indiana’s legislature has empanelled a legislative study committee to research and file their report on October 6th. Your letters and phone calls to members of the study committee can help this vital effort succeed.

You will find the email addresses and phone numbers below for each member, as well as a model letter to use as-is or modify to your liking.

Viewed by each legislator:

The correct definition for “consent” that CAN has introduced is endorsed and supported by Model Penal Code, Nuremberg Code, and General Data Protection Regulation:

Consent is Freely Given, Knowledgeable and Informed Agreement. #FGKIA.

Failing to include the actual, and appropriate definition for consent in penal codes enables rape mentality and puts every man, woman and child at risk for sexual assault and rape. In the Weinstein and Cosby cases, each jury asked for the definition. Each judge answered- “Use your commonsense.” This same discussion takes place in practically every rape trial.

All victims are entitled to equal justice under our laws. Only when we #CodifyConsent can we establish a consistent definition for judges to convey to each jury in order to hold sexual predators accountable and secure equal justice for all. Defining “consent” makes unlawful sexual conduct crystal clear to each and every member of society.

Please use the list that follows to write and/or call today, and bcc Info@ConsentAwareness.net so that we can track the volume of responses on this important issue.

If you would like for CAN to help you begin the process of defining consent in your jurisdiction, write to us at info@ConsentAwareness.net.

Dear Senator _____ or Representative ______:

Thank you for your efforts, as a member of Indiana’s Legislative Interim Study on Consent, to #CodifyConsent in Indiana’s penal code.

Defining consent as the freely given, knowledgeable and informed agreement that it is, will not only protect generations of men, women, and children, but will also serve as a blueprint for appropriate sexual assault laws in additional states and jurisdictions.

No matter how the offender conducts a sexual assault, the victim has a right to equal justice under the law. Only by providing a consistent and correct definition for consent can justice be meted out with an equal hand and can society clearly understand what constitutes a sexual assault.

I look forward to your support for a bill, recommended by your committee, to define consent in the penal code of Indiana.

Sincerely Yours,

Your Name

Your location

List of Legislative Study Committee Members and Their Contact Information

Committee Chair: Representative Wendy McNamara, 800-382-9841, 317-232-9719, h76@iga.in.gov

Committee Vice-Chair: Senator Michael Young, Legislative Assistant Madalynn Conner, 312-232-9517, madalynn.conner@iga.in.gov

Senator Mike Bohacek, 317-232-9400, Senator.Bohacek@iga.in.gov

Senator Justin Busch, 317-232-9400, Senator.Busch@iga.in.gov

Senator Timothy Lanane, 317-232-9427, s25@iga.in.gov

Senator Karen Tallian, 317-232-9404, s4@iga.in.gov

Senator Greg Taylor, 317-232-9432, s33@iga.in.gov

Senator James Tomes, 317-232-9400, Senator.Tomes@iga.in.gov

Representative Ragen Hatcher, Legislative Asst. Jalen Jones, 317-234-3101, Jalen.Jones@iga.in.gov

Representative Blake Johnson, Legislative Asst. RaeVen Ridgell, 317-232-9827, RaeVen.Ridgell@iga.in.gov

Representative Sharon Negele, Legislative Asst. Lewis Ostermeyer, 317-232-9816, Lewis.Ostermeyer@iga.in.gov

Representative Matt Pierce, Legislative Asst. Shelby Baumgartner, 317-233-5348, Shelby.Baumgartner@iga.in.gov

Representative Gregory Steuerwald, Legislative Asst. Andrew Alvarez, 317-232-9620, Andrew.Alvarez@iga.in.gov

Representative John Young, Legislative Asst. Cody Eckert, 317-234-9499, Cody.Eckert@iga.in.gov

Committee Lay People:

Linda Brady, Chief Pobation Officer Monroe County- lbrady@co.monroe.in.us or LinkedIn

Bernice A. Corley- Indiana Public Defenders Council- bcorley@pdc.in.gov or LinkedIn

AmberFinnegan- Executive Director, Jefferson County Court- amber.finnegan@jeffersoncounty.in.gov or LinkedIn

Judge Matt Headly- Indiana Circuit Court, 301 N. College Avenue, Bloomington IN 47407

Randy Koester – Indiana Dept. of Corrections, rkoester@idoc.IN.gov, 317-232-5711

Chris Naylor- Executive Director, Indiana Prosecuting Attorneys Council- ipacinfo@ipac.in.gov or LinkedIn

Legislative Interim Study Committee Staff: Andrew Hedges Esq. : Andrew.Hedges@iga.in.gov

Timing- “The most important piece in reporting sex crimes”

On September 15th, Indiana Representative Wendy McNamara headed a legislative study on CONSENT. One of the presenters, Samantha McCoy from RISE spoke about a case in which the victim was denied justice because she waited a year to take action. The officer told her “The most important piece to reporting is the timeline.”

The reporting timeline affects cases even when the victim reports within the statute of limitations.

Denial of justice is common

In the Harvey Weinstein case, his defense introduced testimony from an expert witness on how memory degrades over time. She ignored the fact that in rape, or other traumatic contact, memories are indelibly seared into the mind. This phenomenon explains why Dr. Christine Blasey Ford could recall details of Brett Kavanaugh’s attack but he, himself, remembered nothing. In a drunken stupor, his behavior, which contained no trauma to him, failed to register in his memory.

After suffering the defiling trauma of rape, many victims simply want to avoid all thought about the incident to restore “normal.” It takes hard work and effort to come to terms with what happened. Overcoming the onslaught to one’s self esteem, destruction of trust, and all the physical and emotional wounds that were inflicted, takes an effort of huge magnitude.

Often, when victims feel ready to pursue justice, our system of justice denies access because the aggrieved is considered to have degraded memory. Here’s the solution…..

Write it down and send a LETTER to SELF!

No matter whether you feel ready or willing to step forward, those feelings can change over time. Preserve your right to be taken seriously by emailing, to yourself, a detailed account of the events. The closer to the date of the actual incident you do so, the greater the acknowledgement you will gain down the road from those in authority. Be sure you hang onto this email by filing it permanently in your system.

Added benefit…..

Trauma scatters your memory. The neuropeptides and hormones that protect your psyche and your body can veil factual awareness from entering your brain in a linear way. One of the reasons the reports of rape victims are treated as “suspect” is because their concepts fail to initially take a linear track. If, however, you write down your account, for your own eyes, you will go through the linear thought process that enables you to assemble the jumbled pieces.

Whether you ultimately decide to go forward with reporting or not, the ability to package your trauma into a document you can file and to revisit as you desire, will help you stop struggling with the memories. It allows you to literally put those memories on the shelf and move past them.

Consent Law Zoom Call – You’re Invited!

RSVP with the words”Consent Zoom” in the subject line to TeamRebeccaSeawright@gmail.com

Join us when we discuss the laws on CONSENT with Weinstein survivors, Jessica Mann and Mimi Haley, Assembly Member Rebecca Seawright, and President of the NY State Trial Lawyers Association, Michele Mirman on Thursday, July 16th, at 7 PM EDT.

Email “TeamRebeccaSeawright@gmail.com” with the words “Consent Zoom” as your subject, to receive the log-in information for this call.

Want to be a part of a transformational change to conquer sexual assault? 

Watch this TEDx Talk and read “Your Consent – The Key to Conquering Sexual Assault.” 

Together, we can make the world a safer place!