Recent Sexual Assaults Prompt Emergency Forum

In response to recent incidents throughout the county, the Arlington Commission on the Status of Women is hosting an emergency community forum on sexual assault.

The forum will be held at the Fairlington Community Center (3308 S. Stafford Street) at 7:00 p.m. on Thursday, July 19.

Speakers include Theo Stamos, Commonwealth Attorney for Arlington County, who will discuss the prosecution of these crimes, as well as Jo Johnson, project coordinator for domestic abuse prevention program Project PEACE. The Arlington County Police Department will also have a Special Victims Unit representative present to speak about recent incidents, provide safety tips and take questions.

Samantha Sewell with the Arlington Commission on the Status of Women said the forum will not only provide safety information, but will examine the services currently available for sexual assault victims. Part of the program will focus on shortcomings in what’s available throughout the community and what improvements can be made.

Sewell stresses that the intent is not to blame victims, or for example, to tell people not to run in certain areas. The goals are to talk about safety and education regarding sexual assaults. Everybody is welcome to attend the forum.

“We don’t want to put this all on women,” Sewell said. “We want to educate the community as a whole, and educate our men as well.”

Organizers say although there’s been concern about the number of sexual assaults for some time, the emergency forum was initiated specifically in response to recent incidents, such as the rape on Four Mile Run trail, and a sexual assault in the Ballston Public Parking Garage.

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