Sexual assault is topic of sheriff’s talk at COVE Denim Day event

April 23, 2014
Sheriff Kim Cole talks about sexual assault.

Sheriff Kim Cole talks about sexual assault.

LUDINGTON — Communities Overcoming Violent Encounters (COVE) hosting a Denim Day breakfast this morning at the Bookmark in downtown Ludington. The event is an international observation held in April in honor of Sexual Violence Awareness Month.

It was originally triggered by a ruling by the Italian Supreme Court where a rape conviction was overturned because the justices felt that since the victim was wearing tight jeans she must have helped her rapist remove her jeans, thereby implying consent, according to the Denim Day website.  (Click here for more site). 

The following day, the women in the Italian parliament came to work wearing jeans in solidarity with the victim. Peace Over Violence developed the Denim Day campaign in response to this case and the activism surrounding it. Since then, wearing jeans on Denim Day has become a symbol of protest against erroneous and destructive attitudes about sexual assault. In this rape prevention education campaign we ask community members, elected officials, businesses and students to make a social statement with their fashion by wearing jeans on this day as a visible means of protest against the misconceptions that surround sexual assault.

Mason County Sheriff Kim Cole was the event’s speaker. He spoke about how sexual violence cases are on the rise in Mason County. In 2012, there were 47 sexual assault cases in Mason County and there were 65 in 2013.

Cole talked about the case in June 2013 when a 9-year-old Grant Township boy was lured into a home by a sexual predator and then sexually assaulted.

“That day I told my staff that we needed to do whatever it took to find the suspect and bring him to justice,” Cole said. “Within 12 hours we had a suspect and made an arrest. I’m happy to report that Dalton Willard is now in prison with a 25 year sentence. He will then spend the rest of his life with a tether at his ankle.”

Cole talked about a recent study by Central Michigan University that stated that 56% of university females reported being confronted or hurt sexually. In addition about 50% of victims do not tell anyone. And, most sexual assaults on campus involve alcohol.

The sheriff also discussed the four degrees of criminal sexual conduct:

  • First degree involves penetration involving excessive force; weapon or threat of a weapon; victim is under 13-years-old, victim is aged 13, 14 or 15 and the assailant is a member of the same household; more than one assailant. It is a felony punishable by up to 20 years in prison.
  • Second degree is when the victim is forcibly touched or forced into physical activity not involving penetration with any of the factors related to CSC first degree. It is a felony punishable by up to 15 years in prison.
  • Third degree involves penetration not involving any of the factors of CSC 1 or CSC 2 and/or penetration with someone between 13 to 16 but in a consensual situation. It is a felony punishable by up to 15 years in prison.
  • Fourth degree is sexual contact without any of the above factors. It basically involves touching of non-sexual areas of the body. It is a misdemeanor punishable by up to 2 years in jail.

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