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Occupy Baltimore pamphlet on sexual assault causes alarm

The Occupy Baltimore movement is trying to become its own community, complete with its own rules, committees and general assembly. But a pamphlet advising how victims of sexual assaults should handle alleged crimes has gotten rape counselors concerned.

The pamphlet instructs victims to report to the "security committee" and advises that the group would prefer to mediate issues internally. One paragraph reads:

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A spokeswoman and the author of the memo -- herself a victim of a sexual assault -- say the directive in no way discourages victims from contacting police. But heads of advocate groups, such as Jacqueline Robarge of Power Inside, complained the tone says different.

"It might actually passively prevent someone from seeking justice," Robarge said.

The pamphlet came to our attention from a blogger posting on Andrew Breitbart's big government web site. The memo's author told me she only wanted to make sure victims knew they had an alternative to calling police.

Trouble is that victims of sexual assault already can get help at places such as Mercy Medical Center, and not involve police. Nurses there will preserve files and physical evidence for up to a year in case the victim changes her mind.

Here is the pamphlet in full:

As the Security Committee of Occupy Baltimore, we release this statement to ensure the safety of our newly forming, delicate yet strong community.

Sexual abuse and assault are dehumanizing acts for the survivor as well as the abuser.  It strips people of their right to safety, dignity, and respect.  All of these basic values embody many of the intentions behind Occupy Baltimore.  As a vibrant community, we recognize and give power to these values and the rights of survivors.

Sexual abuse or assault at Occupy Baltimore is in violation of our values, and will not be tolerated. It is an explicit policy of Occupy Baltimore to prohibit abuse by any member of the community upon another person. Violation of this policy will result in the abuser no longer being welcome at Occupy Baltimore.

Though we do not encourage the involvement of the police in our community, the survivor has every right and the support of Occupy Baltimore, to report the abuse to the appropriate law enforcement.

Reporting Procedure Any member of the Occupy Baltimore community who believes he/she/they have been the victim, or if you are aware of, or suspect sexual abuse taking place, are encouraged to immediately report the incident to the Security Committee.

Point person for dealing with these situations will be Koala Largess. ... Survivors of Sexual Abuse will be given the support, resources, and assistance needed for their emotional and physical health.

Anti-Retaliation

The Occupy Baltimore prohibits retaliation against any member, survivor, or outside person who reports in good faith a complaint of an abuser or who participates in any related inquiries. False accusations of sexual abuse in bad faith can have serious consequences for those who are wrongly accused.

Occupy Baltimore prohibits making false and/or malicious sexual abuse allegations, as well as providing false information during an inquiry. Anyone who violates any part of this policy will not be welcome at Occupy Baltimore.

Investigation and Follow-Up

Occupy Baltimore's Security Committee will make every reasonable effort to keep the matters involved in the allegation as confidential as possible while still allowing for a prompt and thorough inquiry. All allegations of abuse will be treated seriously and will be promptly and thoroughly investigated.

If the survivor wishes to involve law enforcement, in order to obtain physical evidence of the assault, you must report the incident immediately within 72 hours of the assault as collection and preservation of evidence is critical.

Occupy Baltimore will also work to supply the abuser with counseling resources to deal with their issues. The Occupy Baltimore Community has a Zero-Tolerance policy for any sexual physical or mental abuse of or by a community member or other person."

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