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Committee OKs resolution supporting victims of sex abuse

A Senate committee approved a resolution Thursday that aims to change how law enforcement, advocates and family members interact with victims of sexual violence.
A Senate committee approved a resolution Thursday that aims to change how law enforcement, advocates and family members interact with victims of sexual violence.
Scott G Winterton, Deseret News

SALT LAKE CITY — When Amelia Roper tried to report a sexual assault in 2000, she said police didn’t believe her.

Lawmakers listened to Roper’s story Thursday before advancing a resolution that aims to change how law enforcement, advocates and family members interact with victims of sexual violence.

HCR1, sponsored by Rep. Angela Romero, D-Salt Lake City, would designate the first Wednesday of April as “Start by Believing Day” in support of sexual assault victims.

The now-Salt Lake City resident was living in Idaho when she and a friend were victimized. Roper said when they tried to report the crime, responding officers didn’t believe them and it took three days for a detective to take their story seriously.

“This (resolution) is important because people need to know that there’s somewhere they can turn to so they can get help and get the emotional support that they need,” Roper said. “Everybody knows somebody that’s been sexually assaulted some how, some way.”

According to HCR1, the Utah Commission on Criminal and Juvenile Justice study, “Rape in Utah,” found 1 in 3 Utah women will be sexually assaulted in her lifetime.

The resolution supports the national Start by Believing campaign and “confronts the reality that many victims do not get the support they need when they do report a crime,” the resolution states.

Romero said Arizona and New Mexico have already adopted similar legislation.

After little discussion and no debate, the Senate committee unanimously passed the resolution and favorably recommended it to the Senate floor.

“It’s nice to see (lawmakers) understand the significance of this,” Roper said.

Email: kmckellar@deseretnews.com