After CNN article, local organizations remind assault victims they are not alone

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SPRINGFIELD, Mo - An investigation by CNN was released this week stating the Springfield Police Department mishandled rape kits. Springfield's police chief acknowledged that his agency has made mistakes in handling evidence in sexual assault cases in the past.

Local organizations like Me Too Springfield and the Victim Center are concerned this report might deter victims from reporting sexual crimes.

Jordan Harris and Kelsey Nichol, organizers with Me Too Springfield, are both survivors of sexual assault.

"I didn't press charges against my abusers but I know friends and family who have," Nichol said. "I know they have gone through a really rough journey doing that. It is just really disappointing that people are just not being taken care of in that process."

"And knowing how traumatic it is to get a rape kit and have that bravery in the first place, it is really disheartening to know the people who went through that ended up with nothing," Harris said.

The article pinpoints types of wrongdoing by the Springfield Police Department. One example -- some identified attackers were not even contacted by police investigators. However, Chief Paul Williams says practices are changed now and better. These young women want proof.

"I am weary to just accept that as an answer," Nichol said. "And I really think we need to know there is more being done than just what happened in 2014."

Executive Director of the Victim Center, Brandi Bartel, also believes these allegations cannot be swept under the rug. She hopes victims won't use this news as a reason to not report a sexual assault.

"There is still hope and there are still resources like the Victim Center," Bartel said. "Where victims can go and get the help and the healing they need in a confidential setting."

Bartel, Harris and Nichol believe working closely with the police department will bring change to our community. Me Too Springfield hopes to meet with Chief Williams in the near future.

"That is exactly why we want to meet with the Chief," Harris said. "Because we have the same goals. We want to help him get there where he can be open with other survivors."

To learn more about Me Too Springfield, visit: www.facebook.com/metoosgf/
For more information about the Victim Center, visit: www.thevictimcenter.org

Link to original CNN article: http://www.cnn.com/interactive/2018/11/investigates/police-destroyed-rapekits/springfield.html