Attorney General Announces Campus Sexual Violence Forums

New Jersey Attorney General Gurbir Grewal (Photo courtesy AG Office)

TRENTON – Attorney General Gurbir S. Grewal’s “21/21 Community Policing Project” will incorporate community forums on campus sexual violence at local colleges this fall.

Attorney General Grewal believes strongly in law enforcement and students standing together in the fight to end campus sexual violence.

Grewal is also one of 19 Attorneys General in a coalition opposing the US Department of Education’s proposal policy changes to Title IX. These changes could discourage student survivors from reporting sexual violence and prevent schools from taking administrative action against students who are credibly accused of sexual assaults

“We will steadfastly defend the right of students to receive an education free of sexual harassment, violence and discrimination,” said Attorney General Grewal. “We cannot stand by while the federal government proposes sweeping changes that would undermine that right and discourage students who are survivors of sexual violence from coming forward.

“The message that I want these survivors to hear is this: there are prosecutors across the state and investigators working with them who dedicate their lives to prosecuting cases like yours and pursuing justice for survivors like you.Law enforcement will be bringing that message to campuses across New Jersey this fall in partnership with our colleges.”

The “21/21 Community Policing Project” was formed in 2018 by Grewal to promote stronger police-community relations. The project, named for 21 counties in NJ and 21st century communities, brings law enforcement directly into the community four times a year with town hall meetings, roundtable discussions, and events that address vital issues.

The campus sexual violence forums are not Grewal’s first stab at tackling the issue. In November 2018, the Attorney General’s Office updated statewide standards for providing services to victims of sexual assault for the first time in 15 years.

The Attorney General Standards for Providing Services to Victims of Sexual Assault, Third Edition, presents a victim-centered approach that delivers services to victims in a timely and non-judgmental manner; ensures that the victim’s safety is the top priority; respects the integrity, choices, and autonomy of each victim; identifies and responds to the obstacles some victims may face when seeking help; and recognizes the importance of victim feedback in improving responses to sexual assault.

At the same time that he updated these standards, Grewal issued a directive to establish new reporting measures to better track and evaluate sexual assault cases. The directive requires that victims be given the opportunity to meet with an assistant prosecutor if a case does not go forward so that the prosecutor can explain—in person—the decision not to prosecute.

Even more recently, last month the Attorney General’s Office recruited victim advocate Elizabeth E. Ruebman to conduct that review and offer recommendations for improvements of the state’s processes.

Also, in September 2018, Grewal formed a task force to investigate allegations of sexual abuse by members of the clergy within the Catholic dioceses of New Jersey, as well as any efforts by individuals or institutions to cover up such abuse. The task force investigation is ongoing.