Honestly, this letter shouldn’t be necessary, because taking those reporting sexual assault seriously should be a given everywhere, always. The fact that it isn’t – at the highest levels of New Jersey’s state government that we elected – shows how much work we still have to do. Still, goddamnit. And with our own people. I am a signer of this letter. I signed because I support investigation and oversight, to address the ‘How the hell did this happen?’ question that every woman on both sides of the aisle, and both sides of any divide in my own party, had as soon as the first story broke. I want Katie Brennan and Sylvia Jauregui treated with respect. I want the fact-finding to be thorough and reforms placed where we need them. And I don’t want to see any political grandstanding on this – particularly from any man. – Rosi
Today, the NJ Assembly passed a resolution giving subpoena power to the select legislative committee to review the hiring practices of the Murphy administration; the vote was 74-0-1 with Asw Angelica Jimenez the only abstention. The Senate unanimously passed the resolution 37-0 approving by concurrent resolution the NJ Legislative Select Oversight Committee, charged with investigating hiring practices in the public sector and how our government responds to allegations of sexual assault, abuse and harassment. Sponsors of the resolution, the vote to establish it are bipartisan. In the Senate, sponsors Loretta Weinberg & Kristin Corrado, in the Assembly, Eliana Pintor Marin & Nancy Munoz, establishing a 15-member bipartisan committee. Text of SCR148 is here.
October 29, 2018
Dear Members of the New Jersey Legislature,
We proudly stand in solidarity with Katie Brennan, Sylvia Jauregui and our sister survivors and thank them for their tremendous courage under circumstances no one should ever face. By sharing their story, Katie, Sylvia and the unnamed woman who decided to come forward have shown incredible determination and commitment to the pursuit of justice for themselves and other sexual assault survivors.
In the past year — thanks to the brave individuals who have spoken out as part of the #MeToo movement — it has become clear how far we are as a nation from providing justice for survivors of sexual assault and harassment. We can do better and we must do better.
Earlier this month the Murphy administration acknowledged that our current approach to these allegations is unacceptable. We know that for survivors to feel heard, there must be changes in the way cases are handled, from reporting to accountability. All those responsible must own their responsibility, if we are to raise survivors and their voices and move towards greater justice in New Jersey.
We believe that an independent investigation and review are meaningful first steps. These should be focused on supporting survivors and not made spectacles for public consumption. We support the decision to have the offices of the Attorney General and Equal Employment Opportunity do complete evaluations of laws, policies and regulations surrounding these cases. We stand united in a demand that this investigation be thorough and free of political influence, and stand prepared to hold the administration accountable otherwise.
Ultimately, we must make sure that these investigations lead to real change. When the findings are released, we are committed to working together to ensure Governor Murphy, the Administration and the Legislature establish necessary progressive policy changes that lead towards more aggressive prosecution of perpetrators, provide additional trauma training for police officers, prosecutors and judges as well as eliminate arbitrary time limitations that deny victims justice.
By working together, we can accomplish our goals and make it known that these circumstances will never again be tolerated in the state of New Jersey. Sexual assault survivors must be able to seek and receive justice.
We hope the investigation and future policy recommendations will proceed in a collaborative way that does not politicize the process. We must focus our efforts to further the goal of creating better systems and structures in New Jersey for survivors of sexual assault. We owe this to Katie, Sylvia and all the women like them who have been impacted by sexual assault or harassment, not only while engaged in all three branches of a traditionally male dominated government, but also those harmed in private employment, in education, in recreation, and in all walks of life. We need to develop a system of reporting and action that works for them in the pursuit of justice in the future.
Despite great strides made by the Murphy administration and the legislature on behalf of women, much must clearly change. Our collective call is that political machinations not hinder the opportunity to effect real change for all the people of New Jersey.
Aida L. Figueroa-Epifanio, Institute Co-Chair and Executive Board Member, New Leaders Council-NJ
Alisa Smith, Community Baptist Church, Englewood
Alison Arne, Action Together NJ, Atlantic County
Amy Quinn, Deputy Mayor, City of Asbury Park
Analilia Mejia, Executive Director, New Jersey Working Families Alliance
Andrea Long, Donor Relations Manager, ACLU of New Jersey
Ashley Bennett, Freeholder, Atlantic County
Barbara Rosen, First Vice President, Health Professionals and Allied Employees
Bridget Devane, Public Policy Director, Health Professionals and Allied Employees
Carol E. Gay, President, NJ Industrial Union Council
Carol Rizzo, Deputy Mayor, Neptune Township
Darlene M. Smith, President, New Jersey Coalition of Labor Union Women
Debbie White, President, Health Professionals and Allied Employees
Deborah Morgan, Secretary, New Brunswick Area NAACP
Debra Caplan, Board Member, NJ 11th for Change
Diane L. Du Brule, Development Director, ACLU of New Jersey
Dianne Smith, Community Baptist Church, Englewood
Rev. Donna West, Mount Olive Baptist Church, Hackensack
Eileen Chapman, Councilwoman, City of Asbury Park
Elizabeth Brewer Redwine, Founder and Steering Committee, Essex Rising
Elizabeth Juviler, Political Director, NJ 11th for Change
Elizabeth Meyer, President and Founder, Women’s March on New Jersey
Rev. Ella Hayes, Mount Olive Baptist Church, Hackensack
Erin Chung, Women for Progress
Estina Baker, Senior Campaign Lead, National Communications Workers of America
Felisha Reyes Morton, Member, Camden City Democratic Committee
Franceline Ehret, Middlesex County Member, New Jersey Democratic State Committee
Geri Jannarone, Director of Advocacy and Special Campaigns, Parano and Associates
Hetty Rosenstein, New Jersey State Director, Communications Workers of America
Jane Cohen, Director of Environmental and Health Policy, Isles
Janice Fine, Associate Professor and Director of Research and Strategy, Center for Innovation in Worker Organization, Rutgers University
Jayne Mackta, Councilwoman, Bradley Beach Boro
Jean Pierce, Public Policy, Health Professionals and Allied Employees
Jessica R. Shaw, Secretary, SOMA Action
Karen Bellamy Lewis, Vice President, National Coalition of Labor Union Women
Karen Hartshorn Hilton, Village Trustee, Township of South Orange
Karen White, Executive Board Member, Union of Rutgers Administrators, AFT Local 1766
Kathleen Hopfel, URA-AFT
Lauren Albrecht, Chair, Monmouth County Democrats LGBTQ Caucus
Marcia Marley, Executive Director, Blue Wave New Jersey
Margaret Illis, Co-Founder, NJ7 Forward
Marie Blistan, President, New Jersey Education Association
Marie Corfield, Legislative Chair, Flemington-Raritan Education Association
Michele Liebtag, Political and Education Director, CWA Local 1036
Meg Thomann, Democratic Municipal Chair, Freehold Township
Nicole Gillespie, Knowles Teacher Initiative
Pat Sodolak, We the People NJ-07
Paula Madison, President, Bergen-Passaic Chapter of the Coalition of 100 Black Women
Rosi Efthim, Blue Jersey
Saily M. Avelenda, Esq. Executive Director, NJ 11th for Change
Sandra Kot, Secretary-Treasurer, IFPTE Local 194
Syd Whalley, Councilwoman, Spring Lake Boro
Minister Tonya Bryan, Mount Olive Baptist Church, Hackensack
Uyen “Winn” Khuong, Executive Director, Action Together New Jersey
Vanessa La Garde
Wendy Robinson, Chair, Voters of Watchung Hills