Sexual assault survivor seeks longer protections for victims statewide

Cali Knox of Des Moines told KIRO 7 she was only 4-years old when a 16-year-old relative started sexually abusing her.

The boy was never arrested.

While Knox found solace through music and walking on the beach with her parents, family members moved the boy out of the area.

"He told me he would hurt my family," the now 19-year old Knox explained why she didn't tell her family what her weekly babysitter was doing to her for more than a year.

When her abuser - now a married, grown man - suddenly returned to King County in 2014, Knox petitioned a King County Superior Court judge for a Sexual Assault Protection Order.

She received what's called a "SAPO," but had to face her former babysitter in court.

"It brought back a lot of memories," she told KIRO 7. "It was just very difficult. I didn't want to see him."

Knox will most likely see the man in court again,  in just a few weeks.

Her protection order has expired.

In order for a SAPO to be renewed, Knox has to petition a judge every two years and describe what happened when she was just a small child.

"It's just something that I don't want to have to be reminded of, over and over.  It's something that I just wish I could move beyond, but it just keeps following me," Knox said.

The now-19-year old woman told her story with the support of Mary Ellen Stone, Executive Director of the King County Sexual Assault Resource Center. The Renton organization that works on behalf of sexual assault victims is now working to change Washington state law during the next legislative session, so that protection orders for sexual assault victims don't expire after two years --- but can instead be granted for a duration determined by a judge.

As they are for victims of domestic violence, stalking, harassment and other crimes.

"Victims of sexual assault deserve the same kind of protection as every other victim does, and nothing less than that," Stone said with Knox by her side.  "Every two years, the victim has to go back and request a SAPO again and it's unfair to the victims. It places an undue burden on them, and it really discourages and prohibits people from getting the kind of protection they deserve under the law."

Stone and others at KSARC are in the process of contacting lawmakers to find sponsors for what they hope will be a bill to change state law.

For more information: http://www.kcsarc.org/getinvolved

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