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Legal system provides important protections for those accused of sexual assault

A recent editorial in The Advocate focused on sexual trauma and mentioned the recent sexual assault case out in Steubenville, Ohio as a reminder of the need to educate the community about sexual trauma and to work for its prevention. Some very good points were made in the editorial.

One of the points made is sexual trauma has devastating effects on both individuals and communities, particularly with the proliferation of social media. Another point is that there are many victims of sexual assault and abuse who never tell anybody about it because of shame or fear. The editorial mentions that roughly one in five Louisiana women are victims of rape and other forms of sexual trauma.

Sexual trauma is clearly a community issue, and there is no doubt that everybody should contribute as much as they are able to eliminating the problem. This month, being National Sexual Assault Awareness Month, is a good time to raise awareness of the issue and how to address it.

Another issue that affects both individuals and communities is legal justice. And that goes both ways-not just for victims but also for perpetrators and those who are accused. The reality is that those who are accused of sexual assault to have rights that need to be protected. All too often the public falls into the trap of assuming that every time an accusation is made and charges are filed, the defendant is getting exactly what he or she deserves. Unfortunately, reality is a little more complex than that.

So, in addition to remembering the importance of battling sexual assault in our community, let's also remember the importance the rights our legal system affords to the accused.

Source: The Advocate, "Letter: April is sex assault awareness month," April 4, 2013.

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