Day One response to RI Catholic Diocese release of clergy “credibly accused” of sex abuse

This morning the Roman Catholic Diocese of Providence released their “Response to the Abuse Crisis” including names of “credibly accused clergy” as well as their assignments through the years. Publication of this list may help some survivors finally see some validation in print of the incredible trauma they endured, and also realize that they were not the only ones abused by this individual.

However, what is most noteworthy in this 21-page list is what is not included. The list omitted when the reports occurred, how many reports were made, and most importantly, what was the church’s response at the time an accusation was made. Were the priests removed immediately, and/or were they simply moved to other parishes enabling them to assault more children? We heard examples of this during testimony for the landmark statute of limitations bill, which just passed last week. At the Senate Judiciary hearing, former Lesley University President Margaret McKenna disclosed her story of being abused by Father Peter Tedeschi (who was listed in the report today). McKenna testified of learning Tedeschi was moved five times after she first reported the abuse, and how she subsequently made reports five times to diocesan officials.

In light of recent legislation, victims now have an opportunity for an improved measure of justice. The final legislation extends from seven to 35 years the length of time a victim of child sexual abuse has to pursue legal action after reaching adulthood. This means victims have until age 53 to sue an individual or institution. It is retroactive for 35 years to sue an individual. It also contains a seven-year discovery rule, which can be used any time against both perpetrators and institutions, within seven years from the time they discovered the connection.

The release of these names publicly may trigger trauma, but also new memories for survivors of child sexual abuse. Day One is here for all victims of sexual violence. We are here to help them navigate this process wherever it leads. Support is available for victims of sexual assault 24/7, no matter when the sexual violence occurred. Staff and volunteers are trained to accompany victims to medical facilities, police stations, legal proceedings, and to advocate for their needs. We also offer a myriad of trauma informed clinical options. If you need help please call Day One at 401-421-4100 or our 24/7 helpline at 1-800-494-8100.

Peg Langhammer
Executive Director
Day One

Register today for the Day One 5K!

DayOne_5kLogo_Billboard 2019

The annual Day One 5K is back!
Join us as we race to end sexual violence in Rhode Island. 
Whether you are walking, running, or just enjoying the festivities, you can help make a difference!
Join us Saturday, May 4th at 10:00 AM (youth race starts at 9:00 AM) in Providence’s historic east side.
The race begins and ends at Brown University Athletic Stadium.
For more information visit DayOne5K.org.

We’ll see you at the starting line!

Registration is easy:

CLICK HERE

When: Saturday, May 4, 2019
10 AM
Kids race starts at 9 AM
 
Where: Brown University Athletic Stadium
400 Elmgrove Ave.
Providence Rhode Island

Day One’s Comments on Proposed Title IX changes

January 23, 2019

Submitted via www.regulations.gov

 

Kenneth L. Marcus
Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights
Department of Education
400 Maryland Avenue SW
Washington, DC 20202

Re: Docket ID No. ED-2018-OCR-0064, RIN 1870-AA14, Nondiscrimination on the Basis of Sex in Education Programs or Activities Receiving Federal Financial Assistance

Dear Secretary Marcus,

I am writing on behalf of Day One, in response to the U.S. Department of Education’s Notice of Proposed Rulemaking to express our strong opposition to the proposed rules relating to sexual harassment as published in the Federal Register on November 29, 2018.

As the Executive Director of Day One, with over 30 years of experience advocating and fighting for the rights of survivors, I believe my comments here are substantive and deserve serious consideration. Day One is the only agency in Rhode Island organized specifically to deal with issues of sexual assault as a community concern. Day One’s mission is to reduce the prevalence of sexual abuse and violence and to support and advocate for those affected by it. We provide treatment, intervention, education, advocacy, and prevention services to Rhode Islanders of all ages—from preschool children to elder adults. Additionally, we advocate for public policy initiatives and systemic changes that positively impact how Rhode Island families handle sexual abuse cases.

In reading the proposed guidelines, we are concerned these changes may further traumatize or re-traumatize victims of abuse. There are a number of sections of the proposed changes that we whole-heartedly disagree with, the most pressing objections include:

Proposed Title IX changes of concern:

  1. Rule summary (§§ 106.30, 106.45(b)(3)): Schools “must dismiss” a formal complaint if it alleges conduct that is not (i) an employee requesting sexual favors in return for good grades or other educational benefits; (ii) “unwelcome conduct on the basis of sex that is so severe, pervasive, and objectively offensive that it effectively denies a person equal access to the [school’s] education program or activity”; or (iii) “sexual assault.”

The changing of the definition of sexual harassment as “unwelcome conduct on the basis of sex that is so severe, pervasive, and objectively offensive that it effectively denies a person equal access to the recipient’s education program or activity,” is unacceptable. This would mean that students would be forced to endure repeated and escalated abuse before they would be able to ask their schools for help. Not only does this proposal decrease reporting opportunities for students facing harassment, it reinforces dangerous myths and narratives that a sexual assault or incident of harassment is not “legitimate” or not bad enough. We need to stop harassing behavior before it escalates and turns into abuse and assault. If a student is turned away by their school after reporting sexual harassment, they are unlikely to report a second time when the harassment escalates. And even if a school would be legally required to intervene later on, it may already be too late.

  1. Rule summary (§§ 106.30, 106.45(b)(3)):Schools “must dismiss” a formal complaint if the alleged conduct “did not occur within the [school’s] program or activity.”

This rule would have grave consequences to students. Data shows that 87% of college students live off-campus. It is logical that sexual assaults between students take place in students’ homes and rooms that may be off-campus, or even when studying abroad. With these proposed changes, students would not be protected while in their own homes.

This section also presents the issue of digital harassment. Students should be protected from online sexual harassment from other students while not on school grounds. Experiencing sexual harassment from students outside of a school program is a reality for many students, and can have lasting consequences.

  1. Rule summary (§§ 106.44(a), 106.30):Schools would not be required to address sexual harassment unlessthere was “actual knowledge” of the harassment by (i) a Title IX coordinator; (ii) a K-12 teacher (but only for student-on-student harassment, notemployee-on-student harassment); or (iii) an official who has “the authority to institute corrective measures.”

In particular, we are concerned about how the proposed regulations narrow which school employees are required to act on reports of sexual harassment and misconduct. This would become very confusing for victims and could result in even less students coming forward to report. For example, if a student told an adult school employee they trust—such as a guidance counselor or athletics coach—that they had been sexually assaulted by another student, or if they told a teacher that they had been sexually assaulted by a school employee, their school would have no obligation to help them. In contrast, current Title IX guidance requires schools to respond to sexual harassment if almost any school employee either knows about it or should reasonably have known about it. As it is now, only about 30% of victims report sexual assaults. If you limit who victims need to report to, it could cause even fewer reports, especially if a student reports to someone, and they are not the exact person the report will be ignored. If survivors see that other students’ reports were not acted upon by their schools, students may be less likely to report future incidents of sexual violence. Lowered reporting means that students who are abusers will carry on without their misconduct being addressed, making schools less safe for all students.

  1. Rule summary (§ 106.45(b)(3)(vi)-(vii)):In K-12 schools, the school must ask both parties questions, either by (i) conducting a “live hearing”; or (ii) having the students “submit written questions” for the other side to answer. But in higher education, the school must conduct a “live hearing,” and parties and witnesses must be available for cross-examination by the other party’s “advisor of choice.” If requested, parties must be allowed to sit in “separate rooms” connected by “technology.” If a student “does not submit to cross-examination,” the school “must not rely on any statement of that [student] in reaching a determination.”

Increased levels of proof and cross-examination creates, not only additional barriers to reporting, but reinforces existing narratives survivors hold: survivors often don’t report their sexual assaults because of fear of being disbelieved or their assault not taken seriously. Sexual violence is a life-altering trauma. Cross-examination can be re-traumatizing to survivors. It is often rooted in gender stereotypes that contribute to victim blaming. Instead, we should do all we can to lessen the re-traumatization of survivors through the reporting and adjudication process.

For the reasons detailed above and others, we believe the U.S. Department of Education guidelines would do further harm to survivors and should be removed. These guidelines would further isolate survivors and protect those who abuse them. Our recommendation is that these proposed guidelines will be removed before it is too late. We as a country have fought hard to progress and get to where we are now, and there is still so much more work to be done. Going forward with these proposed guidelines would result in significant dismantling of decades of progress under Title IX.

Thank you for the opportunity to submit comments on the Notice of Proposed Rulemaking. Please do not hesitate to contact me at (401) 421-4100 x105 or lang@dayoneri.orgto provide further information.

Sincerely,

Peg Langhammer
Executive Director, Day One

Day One statement on the Bill Cosby verdict

With the attention once again on Bill Cosby as he was sentenced today, many conversations are happening everywhere about sexual assault, reporting, advocacy and the legal process. The three to ten year sentence seems low, when compared to the horrific harm he inflicted on his victims. But he has finally been held accountable and labeled permanently for what he truly is: a sexually violent predator. Victims can finally have closure to this nightmarish chapter, and, hopefully, begin the healing they so need and deserve. It is a win for all victims to see a perpetrator being held responsible for their actions.

It is important for victims in Rhode Island to know that Day One is available to help victims at any time. Whether it is immediately after an assault or years later. Support is available for victims of sexual assault and loved ones. Day One has someone available to speak with 24/7, no matter when the sexual violence occurred. Staff and volunteers are trained to accompany victims to medical facilities, police stations, and legal proceedings and advocate for their needs.

At the heart of every sexual abuse case are the victims. Victims seek justice and show courage and strength in facing their attacker in court. Going through the legal process can be traumatic and the loss of privacy and control over this most intimate part of their life can mirror the loss of control felt at the time of the abuse.

We hope the fact that Cosby, a person with fame, power, and notoriety, has been held accountable, will in turn help other survivors of sexual violence feel comfortable in coming forward with their own reports against their offenders. Victims should first and foremost be believed if we are to be able to move forward with healing. Once again, Day One is here for anyone who is looking for support. Contact us at 401-421-4100. If you need immediate assistance, please call our 24/7 helpline at 1-800-494-8100.

Day One issues statement of strong support of victims of sexual assault

As a national spotlight is once again on the issue of sexual assault, we at Day One feel the need to respond. We are three days before the hearing is scheduled when Dr. Ford and Judge Kavanaugh are set to be questioned. At this point, we feel it is imperative to clarify what we know about victims and survivors of sexual assault.

An important thing to remember is that it is not only the cases involving public figures we should be concerned with. These are a small public sample, but we are also concerned with all victims from all walks of life, even those who are not involved in prominent cases. We want to ensure all victims have the same level of service, options and support.

Sexual assault is a very difficult crime to report. Victims do not report sexual assault for a variety of reasons and those who do come forward often face scrutiny and are met with disbelief. The reality is only about 2-4% of sexual assault accusations are unfounded or false.

More than 60% of sexual assaults are unreported. Reasons why victims don’t come forward may include shame, denial, fear of retaliation, feelings of helplessness, and a justice system that often fails to provide them with outcomes of safety, security and validation.

In addition, recovering from sexual assault or abuse may take weeks, months, years or a lifetime. There is no timetable for healing which is why it often takes time for a victim to come forward.

We don’t often question when young survivors of clergy abuse come forward, so why should we question other claims of sexual abuse with such indignation. It may take years for a survivor to process what has happened which is why there is now no statute of limitations on criminal cases of sexual assault in Rhode Island and why Day One is seeking to extend the civil statute of limitations for victims of sexual abuse to 35 years. Day One also strongly supports practices that interview survivors in a trauma informed manner.

For all of these reasons, Day One is willing and able to support survivors in whatever stage of reporting or healing they find themselves in. We are here for all survivors and will support them throughout their entire process, whether or not that includes making the choice to seek legal justice.

It’s time we, as a community, recognize the massive prevalence of this crime and show our unconditional support of all survivors of sexual assault everywhere without regards to race, ethnicity, religion, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, disability, age, or no matter how long ago the incident took place.

Thank you, Rhode Island, for standing with us in our mission to reduce the prevalence of sexual abuse in hopes of one day, creating a community that is free of sexual violence.

Day One announces expansion of clinical services in Newport County and Washington County

Providence, RI – September 13, 2018

Day One, the only agency in Rhode Island organized specifically to deal with issues of sexual assault as a community concern, is proud to announce the expansion of our clinical services as of September 1st. In looking at the need throughout the state, Day One has opened satellite clinical offices in Newport and Washington Counties to provide trauma focused clinical services in these locations.

Every 107 seconds, another American is sexually abused. Over the past year requests for services have increased exponentially throughout the state. Prior to opening satellite offices, clients throughout the state needed to travel to our main office in Providence. “Recognizing a need for expanded services and responding to the data, we are now able to meet many of our clients closer to home, making therapy more accessible to clients in need throughout the state,” says JoAnne Waite, Director of Clinical Services at Day One.

Through a fantastic partnership with the Newport County YMCA and the Ocean Community YMCA, Day One is able to meet with clients right in their communities. Day One currently has two clinicians at the Newport County YMCA located at 792 Valley Road, Middletown, RI. Appointments are available on Thursdays and Saturdays. “The Newport County YMCA cares about the physical and mental wellness of our community. Day One provides an important service and the Y is very happy to open our doors to them. We welcome any organization that benefits the well-being of Newport County”, Shannon D’Eramo, COO, Newport County YMCA.

Day One also has one clinician available at the Westerly-Pawcatuk Branch located at 95 High Street, Westerly, RI on Tuesdays. Tim Babcock, VP of Operations at the Ocean CommunityYMCA states, “We are grateful for the opportunity to partner with Day One in supporting their important and impactful work throughout the state. We look forward to helping make a difference in our part of the state.”

To make an appointment at either of these locations, or the main office at 100 Medway Street, Providence, RI, people can call Day One’s main office at 401-421-4100. For more information about Day One please visit www.DayOneRI.org.

Zero Tolerance Policy Statement from Day One

Day One stands with countless others who are horrified to see the images and videos of children who have been separated from their families. Operating Children’s Advocacy Centers across the state, Day One knows first-hand how childhood trauma affects children for the rest of their lives. This policy of traumatically separating children from their parents has negative health and mental health outcomes for youth.

In addition, bringing children to detention centers only heightens the negative outcomes. A Department of Justice Report states that one in eight youth in federal youth detention facilities reported they were sexually abused while housed there.

Regardless of anyone’s politics, the trauma to these children is unconscionable. Many of these children will likely never be reunited with their parents. This practice of treating these immigrant families as less than humans by tearing them apart without the thought of consequence on the children is grossly inhumane

We urge congress and the administration to release the children being held at the detention centers and fully commit to reuniting children with their families. Anything less than a multipronged effort to do this is inhumane and unconscionable. Children are our most precious and vulnerable population. We need to work together to ensure that they are spared further trauma and abuse.

Peg Langhammer,
Executive Director
Day One