Newspaper article MinnPost.com

#MeToo Won’t End until We Provide a Path to Real Justice for Survivors

Newspaper article MinnPost.com

#MeToo Won’t End until We Provide a Path to Real Justice for Survivors

Article excerpt

The #MeToo movement marked a significant — and long overdue — step forward in raising awareness of sexual assault. At Gender Justice, our goal is to build on its progress, taking the next steps toward stopping sexual assault and a world where abusers can trust they will be held accountable, because survivors are heard and valued.

Survivors like Renee “Rae” Florek, who first came to the Gender Justice offices for help in 2014. Rae had been sexually assaulted the year before by her then-boyfriend Randy while she was in a deep sleep brought on by the pain medication prescribed as part of her cancer treatment. She might never have known about the violation, except that he bragged about it a few days later. He had asked her for sex, and she turned him down, but “That’s OK,” he said, “I took you two times the other night.” He laughed. She was horrified. “That’s rape,” she told him.

She reported the crime to police, only to find that the investigator assigned to her case was a friend of Randy’s. Even with key evidence, including a legally obtained recording in which he confesses to the assault — and tells her to “get over it” — the police would not pursue the case. The county attorney refused to bring criminal charges. The broken criminal justice system failed Rae Florek. Civil litigation provided the only path available for her to hold her abuser accountable for his actions.

A jury of six men and one woman found Randy liable in December 2017 for sexually assaulting Rae. “That’s justice,” she said, and was overcome with emotion as the judge read the verdict. But I couldn’t stop thinking about the unnecessarily long, hard road she had been forced to take — she still hadn’t reached the end.

Six years after the assault — in March, 2019 — a second judge upheld the jury’s decision, rejecting Randy’s efforts to appeal and finally closing this painful chapter. …

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