Cardin Announces Steps to Combat Sexual Assault
Cardin promises to employ more resources to improve backlog in rape kit processing and ensure Maryland universities engage in proactive measures to limit sexual assault on campus.
Baltimore, MD –In his first major announcement since the end of the legislative session, Jon Cardin unveiled his plan to combat sexual assault in Maryland. Cardin pledged to employ the resources of the Attorney General's Office to reduce the backlog in the processing of rape kits, and to use the powers of the AG’s office to force public universities to take action to improve victims’ services. Cardin is currently seeking the democratic nomination for Attorney General.
“Victims of sexual assault can be assured that every available resource will be used to halt the spread of this horrendous crime. It is unacceptable that untested rape kits languish in evidence lockers across the State. Further, I am disappointed that colleges and universities continue to bury their heads in the sand when it comes to sexual assault often more interested in protecting their reputations than protecting students,.” Cardin said in a statement.
In the plan, Cardin laid out a number of tools available to the Attorney General to influence policy in this area, but also noted that he “refuses to be limited by the traditional role of the Attorney General, but will instead usher in a new age for the Office, expanding its reach and influence to take bold action to solve pressing problems.”
Among the strategies Cardin plans to employ are working internally to refocus government resources towards his goals, serving as an efficiency watchdog to ensure that government agencies are making the most of what they have, directing money from the budget of the Attorney General, and using the bully pulpit of the office to lobby for preferred legislation. Specifically, Cardin will:
- Assign additional resources to police departments and state’s attorneys to assist in clearing rape kit backlogs;
- Advise Maryland colleges and universities they are at risk of significant law suits if they do not proactively reach out to sexual assault victims;
- Advise that his office would not defend a lawsuit in a Title IX action against a college or university that has not made a meaningful attempt to learn the extent of campus sexual violence
- Support legislation mandating colleges and universities survey the magnitude and scope of campus sexual violence; and
- Advocate for legislation increasing transparency of rape kit testing and action such as the Sexual Assault Survivors’ Right to Know Act.
Cardin specifically mentioned the Sexual Assault Survivors' Right to Know Act, sponsored by Delegate Mizeur, and his own bill that would mandate colleges to administer and publicize anonymous surveys to improve data collection about incidents of sexual assault. Both bills stalled in the House during the legislative session.
Cardin concluded, “Sexual assaults, whether on college campuses or anywhere else, must be a top priority for law enforcement agencies, elected officials and the Attorney General’s Office. We must all be taking proactive steps to reach out to victims and empower them to come forward and report their traumas. Once they report, we must have the empathy to understand and heal while also having the resources to bring perpetrators to justice.” He added, “When we know that one in four woman will experience sexual assault during their college career, to sit idle is to condone the problem.”