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Seattle Mayor Bruce Harrell appoints panel on sexual assault, system reform

Seattle Mayor Bruce Harrell announced Thursday the formation of an expert advisory panel to help offer support to sexual assault victims, as well as “hold offenders accountable through effective investigations,” according to a news release.

The Mayor’s Advisory Panel on Sexual Assault and System Reform will include six local crime subject matter experts:

  • Megan Allen, legal advocacy manager, King County Sexual Assault Resource Center
  • Michael Cervantes, policy manager, Seattle Indian Health Board
  • George Gonzalez, assistant director, Harborview Abuse and Trauma Center
  • Jackie Helfgott, Ph.D., professor of criminal justice, Criminology, and Forensics; Director of the Crime & Justice Research Center, Seattle University
  • Sara Mooney, pro bono counsel, Sexual Violence Law Center
  • Jennifer Wallace, program director — Sexual Assault, Washington State Criminal Justice Training Commission

The panel will assist the Seattle Police Department in identifying and fixing problems with the department’s response to sexual assault crimes. According to the news release, the panel will make recommendations as part of Harrell’s Executive Order 2022-05, which was issued in July. That order directed SPD to assess its policies and protocols related to the investigation of sexual assault crimes.

“Every member of our Seattle community deserves to feel safe, and our response to sexually motivated crimes must reflect this commitment to justice,” said Harrell. “This summer, in partnership with Chief (Adrian) Diaz, we issued an Executive Order to support victims of these heinous crimes and improve investigations. This expert panel is a vital next step in our comprehensive review of our response to sexually motivated crimes, as is investing the resources needed to address SPD’s unprecedented staffing shortages.”

“The Seattle Police Department is 100% committed to providing all sexual assault victims the justice they deserve,” Diaz said. “SPD fully supports Mayor Harrell’s Advisory Task Force on Sexual Assault and System Reform and is committed to ensuring every sex crime report is screened by an SPD Supervisor for assignment to a follow-up Detective and/or referral to Victim Support.”