County Attorney’s Office participates in news conference for Sexual Assault Awareness Month

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

At a news conference for Sexual Assault Awareness Month, Deputy Hennepin County Attorney Lolita Ulloa reiterated the county attorney’s strong commitment to aggressively prosecuting sexual assault cases.

“The prosecutors in our office know and understand the important role we have in taking on these often difficult and emotional cases,” Ulloa said. “Prosecutors in the Hennepin County Attorney’s Office are trained to listen to victims, remain empathetic to the trauma they experience and do what we can, with compassion, to make sure justice is served in the prosecution of sexual assault in Hennepin County.”

The Sexual Assault Multidisciplinary Action Response Team (SMART) for Hennepin County, which includes police officials, medical professionals and advocates for sexual assault victims/survivors, began its work seven years ago with a grant from the U. S. Department of Justice. The first task was to conduct an assessment of all of the agencies and organizations a victim/survivor of sexual assault might encounter.

“Therese Galatowitsch has been a member of SMART for years and has forged relationships with everyone here,” Ulloa said, referring to the assistant Hennepin County attorney who specializes in sexual assault cases.

Wednesday’s news conference was to announce the protocols for all of the partners when a victim/survivor comes to their department or organization. Kristen Houlton Sukura, director of the Sexual Violence Center, said the protocols were designed to improve communication between the agencies to make a “clear path to healing and justice for the victim/survivor, regardless of what that looks like to each person, while also recognizing they must simultaneously navigate their ability to cope with harm, pain and trauma that has been inflicted upon them.”

Ulloa called the work of advocates, both within the Hennepin County Attorney’s Office and at outside advocacy organizations, as “the spoke of the wheel,” giving strength to the victim/survivor as she goes for medical examinations and when her case arrives at the county attorney’s office.

“The county attorney’s office believes nonprofit advocates for sexual assault victims are essential,” Ulloa said. “Our office will continue to work collaboratively with our fellow team members and will participate in joint trainings in the area of sexual assault. We realize that other sexual assault service providers, including first responders, advocates, and sexual assault nurses are important in setting the foundation for successful prosecution.”