I am proud to have introduced this National Sexual Assault Awareness and Prevention Month resolution with my friend, Congresswoman Baldwin from Wisconsin. I appreciate her leadership in bringing this issue to the national attention of all of us.
When I was an assistant district attorney back in Texas, I prosecuted rapists for 8 years, and then I sat on the bench as a judge in Houston for 22 years, hearing felony criminal cases.During those 30 years, I learned a lot about sexual assault and the devastation it has on victims.
Probably one of the best statements ever made about a sexual assault and how it affects the victim was a sexual assault victim who was 90 years old and had been raped. She testified on the witness stand that what happened to her "was a fate worse than death." And, yes, many times it is a fate worse than murder itself, the crime that occurs against these individuals throughout our country. It devastates the victim, and after the crime occurs the victim faces a lifetime of battle to recover. In many cases, sexual assault or rape is an attempt on the part of the offender to destroy the inner soul and being of the victim, and sometimes that actually occurs.
When I came to Congress, I founded the Victims' Rights Caucus to advocate on behalf of victims so that this caucus could be a voice for all crime victims. The gentlewoman from Wisconsin who introduced this resolution is a member of this caucus and continues to be a leader in public awareness.
With this resolution, I hope we can educate the public about this horrendous crime, but also thank the outstanding victim advocates who hold the victim's hand from the time the crime is committed and sometimes throughout the entire episode until the trial is over with.
Rape and sexual assault statistics are difficult to determine because many victims are ashamed and afraid to come forward and report these crimes. There are outstanding support services in this country, like the National Sexual Assault Hotline, and many, many hundreds of thousands of crisis centers throughout the country, but still sexual assault victims are reluctant to come forward. By drawing attention to sexual violence and speaking about it on the national level here in our Congress, we can encourage victims to report these crimes and get the help they need.
Predators intimidate and threaten victims with the hope that these victims will never tell anyone about it. Victims need to understand that American citizens support victims and are on their side. Of those reported sexual assaults, there are haunting statistics. Three out of four victims knew the perpetrator that committed the crime against them. The rapist is not a stranger.
I would like to relate one case that occurred many years ago when I was prosecuting these types of cases. I will call this young lady Lisa, to protect the privacy of her family. She was a student at one of our universities in Houston. She left the university one night and stopped at a service station for help, because her car was having difficulty in moving down the highway.
She came in contact with an individual that I will call Luke. He was not a service station attendant. He was just a criminal. He kidnapped Lisa. He sexually assaulted her. He pistol-whipped her. He beat her so bad that he thought he had killed her, and when he was arrested, he was mad that he hadn't killed her. He was captured and he was tried. A jury in Houston, Texas, convicted him and gave him 99 years in the Texas penitentiary, which he earned and deserved.
But Lisa's life fell apart. She never went back to school. She lost her job. Her husband, the kind of individual he was, sued her for divorce, got all the children and left the State. She started using drugs, first alcohol and then everything else. Not long after the trial, I received a phone call from Lisa's mother telling me that she had taken her own life, and she left a note that I still have today that says, "I am tired of running from Luke Johnson in my nightmares."
You see, crime occurs. Victims are victimized. But sometimes they live a short life thereafter because of the crime that has occurred. And no crime is more devastating to a victim than sexual assault.
So it is important that we designate April as National Sexual Assault and Awareness Month so we can educate our fellow citizens on these statistics and encourage rape and sexual assault victims to no longer be afraid. We need to promote justice for sexual assault victims, because justice is what we do in America.
And that's just the way it is.
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