Recent sentencing decisions for sexual assault convictions involving Austin Wilkerson, Brock Turner and David Becker have evoked impassioned responses for the cause of social justice locally, regionally and nationally.

Moving to End Sexual Assault (MESA), a longstanding program of Mental Health Partners in Boulder and Broomfield counties, has received dozens of calls and emails in recent weeks from people in our community, many of whom are survivors themselves, or the family members of survivors of sexual crimes. The perspectives and concerns they express remind us that many lives are impacted when sentencing decisions do not reflect our expectations of offender accountability.

The purpose of a legal sentence for sexual assault, according to Colorado statute, is “to promote acceptance of responsibility and accountability by offenders and to provide restoration and healing for victims and the community.” Furthermore, there is no universal approach for how best to ensure that offenders receive just punishment with support for rehabilitation.

In the spirit of social justice and healing, we call for change within the legal system so the existing laws and sentencing practices for sexual violence in Colorado reflect appropriate and consistent accountability for sexual offenders.

We call for change within our societal attitudes and responses to rape and sexual assault, so that sexual violence is not condoned or minimized.

We rededicate our efforts to increase awareness of sexual violence and its destructive impact on lives. We seek to deliver programs of education and prevention, especially in our schools and universities, to reduce the potential for such acts to be committed.

We call for change within our communities so survivors of sexual crimes receive the utmost support for as long as needed to heal from the effects of the crime that was perpetrated upon them.

We can do no less to ensure justice for survivors and our communities.

Kelly Phillips-Henry
CEO, Mental Health Partners

Janine D’Anniballe
Director, Moving to End Sexual Assault

Anne Tapp
Executive Director, Safehouse Progressive Alliance for Nonviolence

Jeff Zayach
Executive Director, Boulder County Public Health