Sexual Assault Task Force Presents Recommendations To City Council
A nine-member Sexual Assault Task Force has laid out its recommendations to Springfield City Council. The task force was appointed by the city council in January.
Lisa Farmer, director of Harmony House and the task force’s leader, said they learned that most sexual assault cases don’t end in charges being filed. Out of 336 reported cases in Greene County in 2018, only 19, or six percent, resulted in charges being filed, she said. One reason is that victims decide not to cooperate for a variety of reasons including traumatization, shame and embarrasment and victim blaming.
One of the group’s recommendations to try to prevent that is to create a Springfield/Greene County integrated sexual violence court. Farmer said the task force believes there’s a significant need for law enforcement, the prosecutor’s office, the court system and others to work together to improve offender accountability.
"That is huge," she said. "And I think that's one of the demoralizing things that often happens is when offenders aren't accountable. It just makes it more difficult for more victims to come forward."
Other recommendations include appointing a qualified team to conduct a gaps analysis of sexual assault data and to conduct a community survey on attitudes and norms about sexual assault; developing a community education and awareness campaign; and pursuing potential funding sources so more victim advocates can be embedded within the Springfield Police Department. The task force also recommends that city council include sexual assault initiatives as part of their annual legislative priorities. Task force members are Lisa Farmer, Harmony House; Sharon Alexander, Legal Services of Southern Missouri; Sara Bargo, Me Too; Brandi Bartel, The Victim Center; Phyllis Ferguson, mayor pro tem; Jan Fisk, city council member; Dee Ogilvy, National Organization of Women, Southwest MO Chapter; Linda Saturno, Child Advocacy Center; Janice Thompson Gehrke, community representative.
View the Sexual Assault Task Force's presentation to Springfield City Council here.