Fitzpatrick: Bipartisan Work Needed in Combating Sexual Assault

Apr 29, 2014 Issues: Health
Fitzpatrick: Bipartisan Work Needed in Combating Sexual Assault

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Congressman Mike Fitzpatrick (PA-8) released the following statement Tuesday regarding the announcement by the White House Task Force to Protect Students from Sexual Assault:

As a lawmaker – and the father of three daughters – I know work needs to be done to address the increase in sexual assaults and violence on our nation’s college campuses. One out of every five women reportedly is sexually assaulted while attending college. Most often the incident goes unreported.

I am glad to see the White House pulling together stakeholders, experts and survivors to help establish new efforts to strengthen federal enforcement of sexual assault laws, as well as give colleges and universities the tools and information they need to curtail assaults. As a member of the Victims’ Rights Caucus, I welcome the opportunity to include task force’s findings and recommendations into Congressional efforts to address the problem.

Pushing back against the rising tide of sexual crimes – on campuses, in classrooms, or in our communities – is as non-partisan an issue as one can find. I look forward to working with the White House, my colleagues in the House and Senate and members of both parties to advance solutions that will empower schools and law enforcement, assist victims and create a culture of awareness.

The White House Task Force to Protect Students from Sexual Assault suggested actions include: (1) Identifying the scope of the problem on college campuses, (2) helping prevent campus sexual assault, (3) helping schools respond effectively when a student is assaulted, and (4) improving, and making more transparent, the federal government’s enforcement efforts. (A copy of the report is attached)

Fitzpatrick – a member of the Congressional Victims’ Rights Caucus - has been a leading voice in efforts to increase awareness and enforcement surrounding sexual assaults. Aside from work with non-profit and local stakeholders in Bucks and Montgomery counties, Fitzpatrick has supported the following legislative efforts in the nation’s capital:

Sexual Assault Forensic Evidence Reporting (SAFER) Act [H.R. 354]

  • This bill allows state and local law enforcement agencies to quickly process the existing backlog of sexual assault forensic evidence kits across the country.

Violence Against Women Reauthorization Act (VAWA)

  • This legislation serves as a vital resource for communities and organizations that provide assistance and important services to the victims of sexual abuse and violence. VAWA provides more than $1.5 billion toward investigation and prosecution of crimes against women, as well as establishes mandatory restitution on those convicted of crimes and establishes the Office on Violence Against Women within the Department of Justice.

Fiscal Year 2015 Appropriations - Sexual Assault

  • Fitzpatrick joined with Reps. Dave Reichert and Carolyn Maloney to lead the charge in requesting sufficient funding for the Debbie Smith DNA Backlog Grant Program, which helps law enforcement and forensic labs keep up with the increasing demand for DNA analysis.
  • Fitzpatrick also signed on to support robust funding for the Victims of Crime Act, which provides federal grants to sustain essential, often life-saving services for victims of assault, fraud, domestic abuse, sexual abuse and stalking. This legislation established the Crime Victims Fund which is not financed by taxpayer dollars, but by fines, forfeitures and other penalties paid by federal criminal offenders.

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Congressman Mike Fitzpatrick is serving his third term in the U.S. House of Representatives. He represents Pennsylvania’s 8th district which includes all of Bucks County as well as a portion of Montgomery County. He serves as the Vice Chairman of the House Financial Services Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations.