New program offers alternative justice for assault victims
Thursday October 18, 2001
Where to go about assault:
All emergencies: 911
Tucson Police Dept: 791-4444
University of Arizona Police Department: 621-UAPD
Oasis Center: 626-2051
Women's Resource Center: 621-3919
For more safety tips: www.uapd.arizona.edu.
Victims, offenders now have chance to meet one-on-one, officials say
Through self-defense, education and alertness, students on the UA campus can decrease their chances of becoming a victim of sexual assault, said Oasis Center assistant director Matt Sanders.
"(Students) have to decide what to do to help each other out in case someone breaks in (their house)," Sanders said. "It's not generally something people want to talk about, but statistics show that things like that happen."
The recent assault of a University of Arizona student on Oct. 3 near campus has prompted university services to take a deeper look at assault prevention, especially on campus.
One new option for victims of assault is RESTORE, a partnership program between the UA College of Public Health, the Pima County Attorney's Office and the Southern Arizona Center Against Sexual Assault.
RESTORE - Responsibility and Equity for Sexual Transgressions Offering a Restorative Experience - offers victims and first-time offenders an opportunity to work things out between themselves.
The offender must be a first-time offender, not have penetrated the victim in any way and must not have drugged the victim, said Mary Koss, a professor in the College of Public Health and one of the developers of RESTORE.
"Why would (the first time offender) participate?" Koss said. " Because rape is rape, and there isn't a different category of crime if you raped a stranger or a friend or your mother. You could get a plea bargain for a class six misdemeanor, but you still have mandatory registration as a sex offender for the rest of your life. He participates because he has nothing to lose."
Koss said a consensual meeting between the victim and offender in the presence of a certified facilitator and family and friends of both people will give both parties closure on the event and will also give the victim a chance to make the offender "pay for what he did."
"(The victim) could ask him for an apology, or ask him to pay for her counseling or do volunteer work at a homeless shelter," Koss said. "They make an agreement and if the offender doesn't complete the agreement, then the case goes back through the court system."
If the offender completes the agreement, the assault charges are erased from the offender's record.
This pilot program - which victims and offenders are referred to by a prosecutor - plans to take on four cases within the next year. Koss said there are approximately 1,700 reported cases of sexual assault in Tucson every year.