Douglas County launches student-led sexual assault task force

Published: Apr. 11, 2023 at 6:17 PM CDT
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Douglas County, Kan. (KCTV) - It is Sexual Assault Awareness Month, and the Douglas County District Attorney is launching a task force she’s dreamed of for 15 years.

Suzanne Valdez used to be a law professor at the University of Kansas. During her years in the classroom, she had countless students come to her and disclose their sexual assault stories.

Through those conversations, she realized there was a need for young voices to be heard.

Now, Valdez is launching a student-led sexual assault task force.

There will be two student representatives selected from three campuses: KU, Baker and Haskell. They will come together to improve education and prevention efforts.

“I really wanted to empower our young adults to have a voice in how we handle these cases, how we can do better, how we work with our community partners,” said Valdez. “Maybe even think about legislation on degrees of rape.”

The task force will start this fall and it will be led by current senior Madison Messenger.

“I have known a lot of people impacted by sexual assault, myself included,” Messenger said. “So, knowing I could be doing something to make a difference -- even if it means not going the criminal justice route but just to be that advocate or that shoulder -- is really important to me.”

The deadline to apply for the task force is April 30. If you’re interested, you can apply by clicking here.