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National Crime Victim Law Institute

Protecting Victims of Sexual Assault

April 07, 2010

In Stene v. Chambers, NCVLI and nearly a dozen co-amici filed a petition requesting that the Colorado Supreme Court grant certiorari in a case involving the rape of a high school student. At the time of the assault, the victim was unable to pursue charges due to emotional trauma stemming from the assault, and her father’s terminal illness. Several years later, the victim learned from the media that one of her assailants had raped another woman. Upon learning this, she gathered the strength to pursue prosecution. Despite DNA evidence and other overwhelming evidence of the assailants’ guilt, the prosecutor refused to proceed. The victim sought to compel prosecution under Colorado statute. The trial court permitted the compelling of prosecution but the appellate court reversed. NCVLI and its co-amici filed a brief setting forth the strong policy reasons for permitting victims of sexual assault to go forward with prosecution even if they were not able to proceed with the prosecution at an earlier date. NCVLI thanks its co-amici as well as Jennifer Eyl, a Colorado Attorney, who served as pro bono local counsel for the effort! Co-amici included the Harvard Law School Gender Violence Clinic; Joanne Belknap, Professor of Sociology, University of Colorado at Boulder; the Colorado Coalition Against Domestic Violence; the Colorado Coalition Against Sexual Assault; Equal Rights Advocates; Wendy J. Murphy, Adjunct Professor of Law, New England Law - Boston; the National Coalition Against Violent Athletes; the National Women’s Law Center; Rape Assistance and Awareness Program; and Sexual Assault Services Organization.